Two new Hamas tunnels that were being dug in the Gaza Strip collapsed in recent days, a testimony to the vast efforts invested by the terror organization in what they hope will be the most serious and threatening means of attack against Israel in future clashes.

Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

This evening, Hamas reported that the 23-year-old nephew of senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar was killed in the collapse of a tunnel in the central part of the Gaza Strip, and earlier this week seven were reported killed in the collapse of another tunnel. Hamas had previously threatened that they would revert to the use of tunnels in any future military clashes, and it now seems that they are doing everything in their power in order to turn tunnels into the most serious and threatening means of attack against Israel.

Ever since the failure to reach a ceasefire, which was expected to come into effect following Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has dedicated most of its energies and military efforts to two channels, the most worrying of which is the digging of new tunnels all across the Gaza Strip to serve in further clashes with Israel. In addition, Hamas has been renewing and upgrading its inventory of rockets since Operation Protective Edge, and Gazan residents reported hearing explosions, which apparently were the result of rocket launch experiments.

Hamas's tunnel warfare unit

Hamas’s tunnel warfare unit Photo Credit: Hamas / Channel 2 News

According to the reports from Gaza, Hamas has dedicated large parts of its elite forces for the aim of digging tunnels. The grand funeral ceremony held last Friday for the seven victims of the tunnel collapse from the beginning of the week, in which all those killed were presented as highly esteemed fighters, served as a testimony to the tunnels’ strategic importance for Hamas.

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh was also present at the ceremony and announced the continuation of the tunnel project. “We are continuing to dig tunnels in eastern Gaza and are continuing to conduct rocket tests in the west,” Haniyeh declared. “We are continuing to rehabilitate and upgrade our forces. This is the path to freeing Jerusalem.” The rumors in the Gaza Strip are that the new tunnels are deeper and longer, and thus pose a greater threat to Israel.

The bombing of tunnels in Operation Protective Edge

The bombing of tunnels in Operation Protective Edge Photo Credit: Lior Va’anunu and Rafael Hayun / Channel 2 News

The fact that tunnels are being dug in harsh weather conditions also points to the great efforts invested underground by the terror organization. The Gaza soil may be easy to dig in, but it is also easy to drown in, especially considering the fact that Hamas does not have advanced engineering equipment to support the tunnel walls.

It may very well be that there are efforts to thwart the digging of tunnels by Hamas, and it is clear that Israel is not sitting back idly, but no exposure of new Hamas tunnels by Israel has been reported thus far.