July 25, 2014
An IDF paratrooper officer emerges from a Hamas cross-border tunnel that his unit discovered, July 20, 2014. (Image source: IDF)
Hamas had apparently been preparing a murderous assault on Israeli civilian targets for the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 24, according anonymous sources in the Israeli security services, as reported today by the Israeli daily Maariv.
The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.
Israeli soldiers already frustrated a surprise assault by Hamas through one tunnel from Gaza into the Eshkol district of Israel on July 19. The Hamas fighters escaped back into the tunnel, but the clash cost the lives of two Israel Defense Force [IDF] troops.
Israel has reportedly discovered at least 30 tunnels, and has destroyed several of them by employing bulldozers. IDF excavation of the tunnels has resulted in the seizure of tons of Hamas supplies, as well as the discovery of plans for future operations. Clearly, the network of tunnels -- using hundreds of tons of concrete that might otherwise have been used by the Palestinians for building homes, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals and libraries -- indicates that Hamas had been preparing for an ongoing conflict for at least a year. According to the reports, each tunnel has arteries, veins, offshoots, and offshoots of the offshoots in intricate and complex arrangements. As one Israeli spokesman said, "There are two Gazas, one above ground and one below ground: an underground terrorist city."