With its limited military capabilities, Hamas is waging a relentless war against the Israeli occupation army since it launched its biggest attack against Israel on Oct. 7. On Jan. 23, the group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, killed 24 Israeli soldiers in one day, 21 of them in the collapse of a building. Thanks to the resistance, Israel, which first planned to resettle Gazans in Egypt, then in Congo and finally on an island, has now reduced its plans to establish a 1-kilometer buffer zone surrounding the Gaza Strip. Time will tell whether they will succeed or not.
The most important reason for Hamas’ success in the besieged Gaza Strip is the network of tunnels. Using tunnels in warfare is not a new tactic. They have been used in many wars, from the Korean War to the Vietnam War. In China, there is now reportedly a 5,000-kilometer-long (3,100-mile-long) tunnel that can withstand nuclear attacks and is called the Underground Great Wall of China. North Korea also allegedly has thousands of kilometers-long tunnels. The PKK’s Syrian offshoot YPG also built tunnels in northeast Syria.
There are rumors that Hamas learned professional tunneling from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Regardless of where it learned, the total length of the tunnels, which Gazans call “metro,” is estimated to be more than 500 kilometers in length. According to the Modern War Institute, there are 5,700 tunnel shafts. The tunnels are built between 5 and 60 meters deep and the longest one is estimated to be 4 kilometers.
Thousands of tons of cement and iron were used for the tunnels, which have air conditioning, toilets electricity and telephone infrastructure, and it is anticipated that approximately $1 billion was spent to build them. Hamas indeed makes good use of the tunnels. In the past, many attacks inside Israel were carried out through tunnels, and in the ongoing war, the tunnels have been the biggest savior for militants. By entering the tunnels, Qassam militants not only survive but also conduct unexpected ambushes for the Israeli army. Many Hamas leaders also hide in the tunnels. Israeli hostages are also held in the tunnels. If one day the war ends or Hamas manages to obtain concessions from Israel, it will be mainly because of the tunnels and their operational contribution to the militants.
Another benefit of the tunnels is their use as an underground weapons production factory. Qassam Brigades’ famous Yasin-105 anti-armor missile and many other weapons and munitions are produced in tunnels. The factory would have been blown up long ago, had it been located on the ground. However, no Hamas weapons have yet been as useful as tunnels.
Despite attacking the Gaza Strip unceasingly, Israel has been in great trouble since it cannot invade the region because of the tunnels. So far, it has tried many ways to break the influence of the tunnels. For example, it tried to enter the tunnels with canine units. Then it sent robots into the tunnels. On the other hand, the Israeli army started using bombs that can destroy tunnels as deep as 30 meters. The occupation army also poured seawater into the tunnels, but it must have failed because there is no news mentioning the effectiveness of the method.
The family of a hostage, who was mistakenly killed by the Israeli army, recently revealed that Israel also secretly sprayed the tunnels with chemical gas. The use of chemical and biological weapons in war is a crime as per international conventions. The underground tunnels have thus brought one of Israel’s crimes above ground. We hope that one day Israel will be prosecuted for these weapons, too.
Finally, it is estimated that Gazan people also saved their lives by hiding in the tunnels. If it were not for the tunnels, the death toll in the genocide perpetrated by Israel, which flattened every building in Gaza with innocent people inside, would have been much higher. It seems that the tunnels will save many more lives. As for the ongoing war, they will continue to be a great advantage for Hamas.
Source: Daily Sabah