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With dozens of tunnels being dug across the Philadelphia Corridor - between the Gaza Strip and Egypt - an IDF officer has told The Jerusalem Post that he believes it is only a matter of time before Palestinians in the West Bank also begin using tunnels in attacks against Israel.
According to the officer, Maj. Eran Davidi, deputy commander of Sayeret Yahalom, the Engineering Corps's elite unit, Palestinians could begin digging tunnels under the West Bank security fence when it is completed since they will be cut off from Israel.
"At first it will start with criminal infiltrations and people looking for jobs," he said. "But like the southern border with Egypt, the terrorists will then begin to catch a ride on the back of the criminal infrastructure and will also use the tunnels."
Responsible for defusing bombs and mines and destroying tunnels, Sayeret Yahalom played a key role during the Lebanon war this past summer in tracking down and demolishing Hizbullah bunkers and command centers.
The unit has also operated extensively in the Gaza Strip. In the IDF's last operation there before the cease-fire went into effect in November, Sayeret Yahalom was behind the discovery and demolition of over a dozen tunnels in Rafah that were used to smuggle weapons in from Sinai.
Last week, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Chief Yuval Diskin said there were at least 10 tunnels being dug from Gaza into Israel intended to be used in attacks against Israeli targets, including IDF outposts. He said that there were dozens of tunnels being dug in Rafah that are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza from the Sinai Desert.
Davidi further revealed that the Palestinians had recently improved their defense systems around tunnels and that now almost every tunnel in the Gaza Strip was surrounded with booby-traps and explosive devices.
During the operation in Gaza in November, Yahalom discovered a massive tunnel being dug inside a chicken coop that was booby-trapped with explosives.
He also said that the explosives used by the Palestinians were supplied by Iran and Syria and were of high quality.
"We work under the assumption that almost every tunnel is surrounded with bombs and booby-traps," Davidi said.
See Frontlines this Friday for an article on Sayeret Yahalom.