In 2018, terror tunnels in Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and its southern border with Gaza were exposed and destroyed before they could have been used to harm, kidnap, and murder Israelis. In an impressive technological feat, Israelis succeeded in finding and destroying the underground tunnels that would have sown havoc for Israeli citizens had they been successful. The discovery of the tunnels is part of the IDF’s ongoing technological, operational, and intelligence efforts to locate and neutralize terror tunnels before they are used for further attacks. The terror tunnels, both in the north and south, have taken years to build and millions of dollars worth of cement and material to create. Israel’s enemies will stop at nothing to attack it, even at the expense of helping its own people.
Terror Tunnels from the Gaza Strip
Hamas’ extensive underground tunnel network to Egypt has widely been documented for its role in smuggling everything from commercial goods to Gaza, weapons for Hamas and other militant groups, and clandestinely bringing people in and out of Gaza. However, the tunnels stemming from Gaza into Israel serve no other purpose than to launch attacks inside Israel, as it has done previously, most recently in Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Dozens of tunnels have already been detected and destroyed, but new ones are still being discovered. The IDF estimates that Hamas has invested over $150 million in its tunnel building activities to date, with new tunnels being dug each year. The tunnel that Israel destroyed on October 11, 2018, was the most complex tunnel it had seen from Gaza. According to the IDF, Hamas tried alternative methods in constructing the tunnel to evade detection by Israel. A few months earlier in June, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the first “land-to-sea” tunnel that Hamas had built to attack Israel from the Mediterranean coast. As a result, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced that it had begun to build a marine barrier wall to additionally prevent terror attacks stemming from the sea. Egypt had also banned the tunnels from passing through its borders and has reportedly destroyed 37 cross- border tunnels originating from Gaza in 2018.
Terror Tunnels from Hezbollah in Lebanon
On December 4, 2018, Israel launched a campaign to expose and neutralize a network of cross-border terror tunnels on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Operation Northern Shield discovered and destroyed extensive terror tunnels that were built to reach into Israel by Hezbollah forces from neighboring Lebanese villages. Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist organization by a large portion of the international community and has been responsible for numerous terror attacks against Israelis. Throughout December, seven tunnels were discovered and either filled with concrete or destroyed via explosives, thwarting any potential attacks. The tunnels serve no other function than for warfare purposes, including kidnapping, murder, and an attempt to overtake Israeli territory. The tunnels also violate the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which prohibits Hezbollah from using civilian structures for military use. Several of the tunnel entrances were concealed under residential areas in southern Lebanon, including a chicken coop. Following the IDF’s destruction of the terror tunnels stemming from Lebanon using a special sealant, the IDF released aerial footage highlighting the material oozing out of the civilian Lebanese structures that were used to conceal the tunnel entrances. Furthermore, not only did Hezbollah target Israeli citizens, but it did so while hiding behind Lebanese civilian shields. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement to the United Nations Security Council detailing the violations. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is charged with peacekeeping the border area between Israel and Lebanon, confirmed that the tunnels did violate international agreements, but the UN forces failed to prevent them.