A letter detailing the experiences of a tunnel digger in the Gaza Strip has made its way to an Israeli from the center of the country, who says it was smuggled to him. Among other experiences, the letter tells of 10-day shifts carried out amid violent assaults by Hamas men.
The letter, written by Ahmed, a 30-year-old Palestinian and published by his late father's Israeli friend, describes his acceptance of a job offer, after which he was taken to a windowless truck with five other excavators who were forced to do grueling work for long periods of time while underground.
“We drove for an hour and finally they stopped and took us into a closed building. We didn’t know where we were,” Fox News cited the letter, the text of which has been released on the Internet, as saying. “They showed us a hole in the ground and told us to go down.
“We walked for a few hundred meters, and when we got to the end, two Hamas members were waiting for us,” the letter added. “They gave us working tools and explained to us what to do in order to make the tunnel longer.”
Ahmed explained in the letter that he had agreed to work for Hamas out of a desperate need for money following the death of his father Musa, and after Hamas took control of his family's metalwork shop when the organization rose to power in the Gaza Strip in 2006.
“From that day, every morning an armed Hamas member used to come to the shop and give us orders to make winged metal pipes. Straight away I understood that they were used to launch rockets. One day a pickup truck came and the Hamas members took my father from the shop. We never saw him again. Later I learned they killed him and threw his body into a pit," Fox News quoted the letter as saying.
The letter went on to describe the difficult work carried out in the non-ventilated tunnels, with Hamas men supervising them and yelling out orders. Several of the workers were beaten, after being accused of not working hard enough.
After ten days, the six workers, including the author of the letter, were taken back to their homes and given their salaries – a meager amount of money compared to the sufferings they endured. “We didn’t know where we’d been," the letter said, "or what tunnel we dug."
Ahmed stressed that he had "realized that he had been helping Hamas" only after hearing news reports about the tunnels dug by the terrorist organization. He ended his letter with a message to the world: "We pray that the world will help to free us from the fearful and cruel Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. I pray for death to all Hamas members and that we will get freedom and a chance to live a normal life for our children in Gaza. Inshalla,” the website quoted the letter as saying.
According to Fox News, the letter had been smuggled out to Itzik Azar, a resident of a community in central Israel who worked in a metal workshop in south Tel Aviv in the early 1970's.
In those days, Palestinian workers had been employed in workshops, construction sites and garages throughout the country. One of Azar's colleagues was Musa, Ahmed's father, who made the hour-long trip from Gaza to Tel Aviv every day.
"Since Musa and I were relatively of the same age, we became close friends," Azar told Ynet on Saturday. "As the years went by with him living in Gaza, we grew distant. When we met he had a young son named Ahmed, who is about 30-year-old today," he said. "Lately, our relationship was renewed due to the fighting in the Gaza Strip," he continued.
Azar refrained from revealing details of how exactly he received the letter, which was written by hand on a piece of paper. "Without getting into specific names, I received the letter from someone who left the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in Israel," he hinted. "I destroyed the original letter in Arabic because it revealed too much identifying information about Musa, Ahmed and their family. I have no intention of endangering them."
Azar announced that once the Hamas rule in Gaza will be over and his friends' safety will be protected, he will tell their full stories.