Israel has so far destroyed more than 62 miles of Hamas tunnels, including 7.5 miles targeted in its latest aerial assault – and a new military video shows the effects of the operation on the so-called “Metro” complex.
“The Hamas terror organization invested the majority of its finances and efforts over the last decade in digging out a complex tunnel system across the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces says in the clip.
“The terror Metro began with individual shafts dug deep underground, used as hiding places for Hamas terror operatives after launching rockets,” the IDF statement continues.
“The system enabled military training, mobility, the capacity to carry out and manage military operations without exposing themselves, storage for weaponry, and more,” it adds.
The video also shows the various rounds of air force strikes against the tunnels during Operation Guardian of the Walls.
“The massive system of tunnels under Gaza represents one of Hamas’s most strategic projects, created over the course of years and dug under the people of Gaza near homes, schools and mosques,” IDF reserves Capt. Libby Weiss told The Post in a message.
“Hamas relied on this system to transport and store arms and equipment, and move about within the Gaza Strip as well as to carry out rocket attacks,” Weiss continued.
“As a result of IDF activity, more than 62 miles of this network have been destroyed — that’s the equivalent of almost a quarter of the NYC subway system,” the spokeswoman said. “Rather than investing in the economic development of the Gaza Strip, Hamas sunk tens of millions of dollars in this system.”
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, another IDF spokesperson, said the military was focused on destroying the tunnels where the terrorists hide, move between locations and resupply launchers with rockets to fire at Israel.
The tunnels run under civilian neighborhoods, and the airstrikes have been trying to target roads above them to minimize damage to buildings, Conricus said.
One weekend airstrike that the IDF said targeted a tunnel caused several buildings to collapse and killed 42 people in the deadliest single attack of the conflict.
The attacks on the tunnels continue, “and the assessment is that that effort will be expanded to areas that we so far have not conducted this effort in, and that is to be expected over the coming days,” Conricus said.
Hamas leaders have described the tunnels as an “innovation,” but insisted that they are mostly defensive, The Washington Post reported.
The IDF has taken journalists on tours of tunnels it has captured, showing them to be sophisticated structures with concrete walls, electricity and carts, according to the newspaper.
Tunnels first appeared in the enclave in response to an Israeli blockade imposed after Hamas took power. At first, they were used to smuggle goods but were soon used for other purposes.
In 2006, Hamas used a tunnel to capture Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive for five years before being released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal, the outlet reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invoked fears that the tunnels would be used to also kidnap Israeli civilians.
Gerard De Groot, a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews, once described tunnels as being able to “evoke a peculiar horror — as though the devil himself were emerging from hell to spread torment on Earth,” The Washington Post reported.
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