The IDF has intensified as of late its attacks on tunnels along the Gaza-Israel border. Ynet has found that since the beginning of the year 16 such tunnels have been targeted in response to the firing of Qassam rockets and mortars toward Israeli communities surrounding the Hamas-ruled territory.
However, the fact that the Gaza border tunnels have been chosen as the army's prime target is indicative of the threat they pose to Israel's security. According to the army, the 16 tunnels were meant for the use of terrorists who had plotted to attack or kidnap soldiers and civilians in Israeli territory.
Captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on June 25, 2006 when Palestinian terrorists raided an army base near Gaza after crossing the border through an underground tunnel. Two soldiers were killed in that attack.
Addressing the fact that one in every three attacks launched since the beginning of the year has targeted underground tunnels near the border with Israel, a senior IDF officer from the Southern Command said, "Terror organizations in Gaza are trying to infiltrate Israeli territory through these tunnels, carry out an attack and quickly return to the Strip. This is not something new. It is our job to foil these attacks."
According the officer, all of the terror groups are taking part in the digging. Some groups want to use the tunnels immediately, while others are planning to use them in a future conflict with Israel, he said, adding that civilian infrastructure is being used to conceal the digging.
"We do not have to wait for a Qassam attack to destroy a tunnel," said the officer.