Hamas terror operatives in Gaza tunnel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas employs more than 1,000 operatives to excavate underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
According to the report, the terrorist organization invests hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in the digging activities, paying each operative engaged in the process some 300 to 400 dollars a month.
Hamas also heavily invests in smuggling building materials, including raw materials and excavation machinery from Egypt and Israel.
To prepare for a possible future incursion with Israel, the Palestinian terrorist organization's elite 'Nukhbah' unit carries out drills practicing different scenarios simulating offenses in the tunnels near the border fence with Israel. Several of the members of the unit have been killed in recent months in tunnel collapses
in the coastal Palestinian enclave, according to the Israel Radio report.
The report cited Israeli officials as saying that the funds Hamas uses to invest in rebuilding its network of underground passageways could instead be used to construct full neighborhoods in the Strip.
Earlier this week, Israel temporarily suspended
the delivery of cement to Gaza’s private sector after it discovered that Hamas was siphoning the material, which is intended to rebuild destroyed houses.
The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) monitors the flow of cement into Gaza to ensure that Hamas has not used it to construct tunnels to attack Israel.
On Friday, COGAT posted on its Arabic Facebook page that it suspended the transfer of cement to Gaza because some deliveries had been diverted by Imad Elbaz, the deputy director-general for Hamas’s economics office.
The Hamas deputy political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, vowed in February that his group will never stop digging tunnels and upgrading rockets in preparation for any possible confrontation with Israel.
During the Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the IDF said it had destroyed all the known terror and infiltration tunnels in Hamas's vast subterranean network .
In March, The Jerusalem Post
learned from Palestinian sources that some of the terror operatives digging the tunnels believed Israel was involved
in at least some of the various recent tunnel collapses that claimed the lives of several Hamas men.
Official reports from Gaza described the various collapses in recent months as "work accidents" or being caused by flooding from heavy rains; however there are many who believe Israel is responsible.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.