Captured Hamas fighter provides terror tunnel information


A captured Hamas fighter has provided information to Israeli security services about the location of tunnels between Gaza and Israel, planned attacks on Israel and the Hamas-Iran connection.

Ibrahim Shaer, 21, from Rafah in Gaza, was captured in a joint operation of the Shin Bet security service and the Israeli army in early July, the two agencies announced in statements Tuesday.

Shaer confessed to being involved in recent months in the digging of a terror tunnel from Rafah to the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to the Shin Bet. He said a road being paved by Hamas next to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel is to be used for attacks against Israel.

Verifying the partnership between Iran and Hamas, Shaer confirmed that Iran supports the terrorist group’s military infrastructure. He said Iran transfers funds, advanced weaponry and electronic equipment to Hamas, and has trained Hamas operatives to infiltrate Israeli territory and airspace.

Shaer said Hamas was using materials brought to Gaza for reconstruction and rehabilitation to rebuild terror infrastructure and execute terrorist activities, and that Hamas leaders ordered operatives to use homes for weapon storage, including his own home.

The District Court of Beersheba on July 31 indicted Shaer for membership and association with illegal organizations, attempted murder, interaction with foreign spies, illegal military trainings and several weapons-related offenses.

Egypt reports finding hundreds of new Gaza tunnels


Egypt said it found hundreds of new tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai.

Cairo, which is creating an eight-mile buffer zone, discovered the tunnels using satellite imagery, the Times of Israel wrote, citing a report on Sky News Arabic.

The Egyptian army plans to uproot 10,000 residents from approximately 800 houses to make way for the buffer zone.

The zone’s construction comes in response to a terror attack at an army checkpoint last week in which 31 soldiers were killed. Since the attack, Egypt has implemented a curfew and a three-month state of emergency, and has closed the Gaza border.

Eventually the buffer zone will be monitored with surveillance cameras and will feature a water-filled trench along the border to the Mediterranean Sea, the Times of Israel reported.

Israel looking to technology to counter Gaza tunnels


Israel is preparing to build a network of sensors to try to detect tunnel building into its territory from the Gaza Strip, but it could take months to prove the technology works, a senior army officer said on Monday.

In the meantime, the army might re-invade the Palestinian enclave to destroy any tunnels it discovers or that it thinks are under construction, another official said, looking to calm the fears of Israelis living close to the Gaza border.

Israeli ground forces plowed into Gaza last month to demolish a warren of underground passages that Hamas Islamists had dug to infiltrate the border.

The army said it destroyed 32 of them, but believes some, which also serve as bunkers and weapons caches, survived intact.

After more than a decade of failed attempts to develop ways to reveal the infiltration tunnels, an army officer said the military was preparing to place sensors around Gaza's perimeter.

The army hopes these will not only be able to detect tunnels under construction, but also others already built.

In a briefing to reporters, the officer, who declined to be named, said the sensors would be augmented by physical obstacles placed along the 68 km-long (42 miles) frontier.

He did not discuss the technology, but said testing over the next few months would show whether it was ready for use. Previous experimentation has focused on seismic detectors.

Underlining Israel's anxiety to overcome the problem, the officer said an Israeli delegation had even traveled to Vietnam in 2002 to try to learn from how the Americans had dealt with guerrilla tunnels during the war in the 1960s and '70s.

ENTER AND DESTROY

Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 with the aim of halting militant rocket barrages from the enclave, sending in ground forces days later to tackle the tunnels. The fighting has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis, and has devastated wide tracts of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

During the month-old conflict, militants infiltrated Israel several times and killed five soldiers at a lookout post.

The senior commander on Israel's southern front, Major-General Sami Turgeman, said on Monday it might take months before the sensor technology was proven.

“Until then, I propose that every time we discover that the enemy is building a tunnel, we will enter the area and destroy it,” Turgeman told Israeli residents near the Gaza border.

Yedidia Yaari, the chief executive officer of Rafael Advanced Weapons Systems, a state-owned firm that produces the Iron Dome missile interceptor, told Channel 2 at the weekend that a solution to the tunnels threat was becoming more real.

“It is not simple to discover tunnels, but it is something that we are finding a solution for, and in my opinion it is close,” he said.

One of Israel's concerns about the tunnels is that they might be used to abduct Israelis, as happened in 2006 when Gaza infiltrators grabbed soldier Gilad Shalit. They held him for over five years before freeing him in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Late last month, Israeli officers feared that one of its soldiers had been seized by militants hiding in a tunnel and launched an immediate, massive barrage in southern Gaza in an apparent effort to prevent him being taken away from the area.

Some 70 Palestinians, many of them civilians, died in the shelling and the Israeli military said that a subsequent investigation had shown that the missing soldier was probably already dead before the barrage was unleashed.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Monday urged the Attorney General to investigate the so-called “Hannibal Protocol”, saying it was a disproportionate use of firepower that endangered the soldier and killed many civilians.

Israel instituted the procedure only for use against guerrilla groups, such as Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, which do not abide by the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war.

“A protocol that puts the life of the captured soldier in jeopardy to thwart a kidnapping is fundamentally unacceptable,” ACRI said.

“The implementation of the Hannibal Protocol in populated areas fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants and causes needless suffering. It is our opinion that the use of this protocol … constitutes an illegal method of warfare.”

Israel calls up 16,000 more reservists


Israel called up 16,000 extra reservists at short notice as its Gaza offensive intensifies and the death toll rises. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet approved continuing the assault saying it was days from achieving its goal of destroying cross border attack tunnels.

Gaza officials said at more than 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed, stoking international alarm. Israel has lost 56 soldiers.

Despite evacuation warnings, rolling Israeli ground assaults on residential areas have displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Israel says it is trying to avoid civilian casualties and blames these on Hamas and other Palestinian factions intent on urban combat.

Hamas releases video of tunnel infiltration


On Monday, July 28, five IDF soldiers were killed at Kibbutz Nahal Oz by Hamas terrorists, who infiltrated a tunnel network and filmed the attack. This is the video. 

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Netanyahu: Israel will not end Gaza war until tunnels destroyed


Israel will not end its operation in Gaza before destroying all the Hamas-built tunnels, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the nation.

Neutralizing the tunnels is the first step toward demilitarization of Gaza, Netanyahu said Monday night in a nationally televised speech from the Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv.  He said the international community must demand the demilitarization of Gaza and monitor the building materials that enter Gaza in the future.

“We need to be prepared for a continued operation,” Netanyahu said. “We will fight to defend our citizens, our children.”

Netanyahu’s call to continue the operation until the tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border are destroyed appeared to be a rejection of President Obama’s insistence on an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, a message he conveyed to Netanyahu in a phone call Sunday afternoon.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said the “complex” operation in Gaza could continue for several more days, adding, “The price is painful, but we remain determined.”

He praised what he called the “unprecedented cooperation” of Israel’s air, sea, land and intelligence military sectors.

Gazan civilians warned by the IDF through leaflets or phone calls to leave their homes should listen, Gantz said, because “When we reach Hamas positions, it’s going to hurt.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that Israel “will not hesitate to expand IDF action in a way that will harm Hamas,” saying the operation “could last long days until security and quiet is returned to Israel.”