“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me.” (Psalm 59:1)
A 17-year-old Palestinian Arab who joined the Hamas military wing two years ago has provided invaluable information about Gaza’s terror-tunnel system after his arrest by Israeli security forces this past week.
“Hamas is planning to operate inside of Israel in the next round of fighting,” the Israeli Security Agency, the Shin Bet, told Israeli media. “The investigation revealed a wide range of information regarding Hamas’ efforts to dig tunnels under the border for the purpose of sending Hamas militants into Israel.” (Ynet)
“Following initial investigations, it was revealed that he is a member of the Hamas North Gaza Division, and joined a short time before Operation Protective Edge broke out,” said the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) in media reports published last Tuesday.
Protective Edge was a defensive mission launched by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on July 7, 2014, after the Gaza Strip continued to launch increasing, non-stop rocket and missile fire at civilian areas in Israel.
After 10 days of counterattacks by air, the IDF entered the ground phase of the mission, to locate and dismantle the rocket launch sites and weapons caches being used against Israel.
The teen, who was living in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, was recruited by Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades before the IDF response. The al-Qassam Brigades trained him to conduct attacks and ambushes, including storming buildings, setting off explosives, infiltrating Israel, and gathering information on IDF forces and patrols.
Another arrest last month of Mahmoud Atouna, 29, also from Jabalya in the northern Gaza provided interrogators with “much information about the tunnel routes in the northern Gaza Strip, its tunnel-digging methods, the use of private homes and public buildings to bore tunnels and materials used,” Shin Bet said in a statement on May 5.
Atouna also “pin-pointed several digging locations as well as tunnel shafts” within the Hamas weapon and terrorist transportation network inside Gaza. This network, he said, “includes resting areas, showers, and dining areas for the benefit of the operatives underground.” (Reuters)
This information may have helped Israeli military find yet another tunnel on May 5 amidst the third day of mortar attacks by Gaza. The tunnel (about 29 meters or 95 feet underground) was found by Israeli soldiers within a 100-meter border zone that Israelis operate and patrol.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an army spokesman, said that “Hamas is continuing to try to carry out and build this infrastructure into Israel and it’s something we are not prepared to tolerate.”
While visiting Gaza division headquarters, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “We will not be deterred by these threats by Hamas and will continue operations in light of the violation of our sovereignty, until we find and expose every last tunnel,” adding that Israel will “continue to respond to any attack or provocation by Hamas to ensure there is no escalation and that Hamas does not continue to shoot at us.” (Haaretz)
Israel responded to the mortar with tank fire as well as Israeli jets targeting “terrorist infrastructure.” Gaza confirmed that Israel bombed military posts used by Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants. Gaza also claimed that Israel hit a non-military metal workshop wounding three children and a 65-year old Palestinian, according to the Washington Post.