Breaking
February 27, 2024

Israel Uncovers Vast Hamas Tunnel Network Underneath Gaza City

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 22, 2023

Israel has uncovered a major Hamas tunnel network underneath Gaza City, in what officials are calling the militant group’s “underground city”. The discovery comes as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas gain momentum after over a week of conflict.

Overview of the Tunnel Network

The tunnel network spans underneath the Palestine Square area of Gaza City, located near the Beach refugee camp (1). It connects to tunnels underneath the homes of senior Hamas leaders and their family members (2).

The tunnels are described as an “underground city” used as command centers, weapons stores, as well as pathways to move fighters and supplies unseen (3). Some tunnels are wide enough to drive vehicles through (4).

Tunnel Entry Point
Tunnel entry point found underneath home in Gaza City. Source: 5

Timeline of Events

  • October 7: Hamas leaders take refuge in the tunnel network during an Israeli airstrike (6).
  • December 13: Conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas after the arrest of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader (7).
  • December 17: Israel announces the discovery of the tunnel network, dubbing it “Metro 2” (8).
  • December 20: Israel reveals more details on the scope of the tunnel network (9).
  • December 21: Israel demolishes parts of the tunnel network (10).

Background Information

Tunnels have been a key tactic for Hamas in its ongoing conflict with Israel. Hamas began constructing tunnels in Gaza after Israel withdrew troops and settlers from the territory in 2005 (11).

The group uses tunnels for storing weapons, moving fighters, and launching attacks into Israel. Tunnels also allow Hamas leaders to hide and evade Israeli airstrikes (12). Israel has uncovered dozens of tunnels over the years, using various technologies and flooding techniques to destroy them (13).

The recent conflict was sparked by rising tensions after Israeli forces arrested Bassem Saadi, a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, in August (14). After several months of relative calm, Islamic Jihad and other Gaza groups resumed rocket attacks, demanding Saadi’s release. Israel launched airstrikes in response, killing Islamic Jihad’s commander in Gaza, which led the group to fire over a thousand more rockets. Hamas then joined the conflict in solidarity with Islamic Jihad (15).

Impact and Analysis

The discovery of the Hamas tunnel network in Gaza City raises questions about Israel’s pre-war intelligence gathering and its effectiveness at destroying tunnels. Despite heavy surveillance, Israel seems to have missed key underground infrastructure that likely took years to build (16).

With ceasefire talks underway, the destruction of the tunnel network could strengthen Israel’s negotiating position by degrading a key Hamas capability (17). However, Hamas may view it as further provocation. The group stated the demolition came “too late” and would not change the “rules of engagement” (18).

Going forward, Israel may expand its tunnel detection and destruction efforts. It is currently testing techniques like seawater flooding that could make tunnels unusable without boots on the ground (19). However, environmental groups have raised concerns about the impact on Gaza’s scarce water resources (20).

The discovery has shed more light on the sophistication of Hamas’ underground infrastructure after years of covert tunnel building. Israel may seek international condemnation of Hamas’ diversion of aid and resources to build what one official called a “metro for terrorism.” (21). However the group maintains significant support among Palestinians as Gaza’s de facto government.

What Happens Next?

In the near-term, Israel is likely to continue strikes on Hamas infrastructure and leadership targets. Meanwhile, mediators Egypt and the UN will push for an end to rocket fire and airstrikes to prevent further escalation (22).

If ceasefire talks progress, Israel may ease restrictions on Gaza in exchange for calm, as in past agreements. However, long-standing issues like Hamas’ refusal to disarm, Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and intra-Palestinian divides will remain major roadblocks to sustainable quiet (23).

Israel is expected to continue developing and testing tunnel detection technologies to stay one step ahead of Hamas. It may also launch additional limited incursions into Gaza to destroy tunnels. Hamas will likely begin rebuilding its underground infrastructure while seeking to replenish its rocket arsenal.

Without meaningful diplomacy on underlying disputes, the situation remains volatile. Further escalations between the bitter enemies are likely only a matter of time.

References

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post