Soldiers from the elite IDF Engineering Corps Yahalom unit train for tunnel warfare.
(photo credit: IDF)
There is a short video making the rounds on the Internet, the kind of audiovisual presentation that serves as a painful reminder, as if one were needed, of the depths of evil that Israel and the West now face.
Produced by Hamas to commemorate two years since the start of Operation Protective Edge, when Israel was compelled to enter Gaza to put a halt to rocket attacks that were terrorizing the country, the two-minute clip speaks volumes about the depravity of our foes and their fiendish vision for the future.
The film takes place entirely underground, in one of the Hamas tunnels that was built in the Gaza neighborhood of Sajiya.
There is no violence or gore on display, but something much darker fills the screen: a group of Palestinian children being taken on a school outing to tour one of the “heroic” subterranean passageways that was used to launch terrorist attacks against the Jewish state.
As martial music plays in the background, gleeful Palestinian kids, some appearing to be no more than 10 years old, scamper through the secretive corridor, smiling and posing for the camera with their fingers held up high in the shape of the letter V to indicate victory.
The walls of the tunnel are lined with posters hailing the exploits of Hamas and its leaders, and the message being ingrained in the children is as unmistakable as it is immoral: violence and murder are to be cherished rather than loathed.
According to Ynet, the video is part of an exhibition that Hamas has created to boost its image among the Palestinian population, which also includes a display of firearms that were used to kill Jews.
Stop and think about this for a second. What does it say about Palestinian society and its moral calculus that it sees fit to inculcate the next generation with a loving admiration for the spilling of blood? And if celebrating terrorism is a way for Hamas to enhance its popularity among the Palestinian public, how can one possibly conceive of making peace with such people? Consider the contrast between Hamas’ approach and how Israelis look back on the Gaza conflict. We do not rejoice over the need to have taken up arms, nor do we revel in it, and we certainly do not create macabre displays to teach our children that the use of violence is a lofty or noble ideal.
When most Israelis recall the war in Gaza, they think of the long, hot days of endless news bulletins filled with agonizing casualty reports and wailing air-raid sirens. They remember the rivers of tears that were shed after the brutal Palestinian kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel. And they hark back to the grief that enveloped the nation when a Hamas mortar shell killed four-year old Daniel Tragerman as he played in his family’s living room in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Simply put, Israelis mourn the loss of life, while Hamas exults in it.
Through such methods, Hamas aims to dehumanize Israel by legitimizing the use of terrorism against the Jewish state. But in reality, the only ones they are truly stripping of their humanity are the younger generation of Palestinians, who are being raised to view savagery as laudable.
Needless to say, Israeli schoolchildren also visit tunnels, but of a very different sort. Young Jews are taken to the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem where they can touch history and affirm their connection to their eternal religious and cultural heritage.
They learn about the glory of Israel’s antiquity and the wonder of its destiny, and confront age-old questions of identity and purpose. They are taught about King Herod and his massive undertaking to enhance the Temple Mount, and absorb details about our ancestors served the Creator.
Note how Israel uses tunnels as tools of teaching, while Hamas exploits them as instruments of terrorism.
Our tunnels truly have a light at their end, while those of our enemies offer nothing but false hope.
By their very nature, tunnels take a person from one place to another, far away from the prying eyes of whatever is taking place on the surface.
Indeed, when Hamas takes Palestinian children into the depths, it is sentencing them to walk in paths of darkness and despair. Like the rest of the global Islamic jihadist movement, the terrorists of Gaza are choosing a route that leads to nowhere.
The urgent challenge now facing Israel and the entire West is to unearth those tunnels and destroy them, along with everything they represent.