Cross border attack tunnel discovered last month was deepest ever found

Underground barrier almost complete; new "smart border" concept deployed along northern section of Gaza Strip.

IDF forces near the deepest Hamas tunnel near Kissufim forest (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Hamas tunnel that stretched several meters into Israel and was discovered by the IDF last month near Kissufim forest was the deepest tunnel ever dug.
While the military is not certain as to what its purpose was, it believes that it was intended to test the underground barrier or to be used for a cross-border raid by the terror group though not necessarily to abduct Israeli troops or civilians.
It was only dug recently and was not one of 20 terror tunnels used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and destroyed by the IDF since the end of the last war between Israel and Gaza in 2014.
The tunnel which began in the Gazan city of Khan Younis was found after being notified by the new underground barrier system and by the noise of excavations which were heard by female soldiers in the Gaza Division who are tasked which identifying such sounds.
Like other attack tunnels built by the group, the tunnel was fitted with concrete slabs in the form of arches and due to the depth that it reached, it also had an upgraded oxygen and ventilation system.
It was about two kilometers long and though the military sealed part of the tunnel, they intend to use the remaining route to carry out a number of experiments against terror tunnels.
The discovery of the tunnel has encouraged the military regarding the success of its 60 km long underground barrier which has a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices to detect tunnels and is combined with a 6 m. high above-ground fence.
Construction on the barrier began in 2017 and is expected to be finished by March 2021.
Infiltration attempts are common along the border, with many Gazans looking to get arrested by IDF troops rather than remain in the Strip which is verging on a humanitarian catastrophe, with serious economic, social, and infrastructure crises only getting worse.
In 2018 some 702 Palestinians from the Strip infiltrated into Israel and were arrested, the next year saw 397 infiltration and only 56 in the past year. The marked decrease in infiltration is associated with the ending of the Great March of Return demonstrations as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the underground barrier meant to stop cross-border attack tunnels, the IDF is also implementing a “Smart Border” concept.
It will be implemented first along a 6 km section along the northern part of the coastal enclave, with a combination of artificial intelligence, sensors, and drones able to detect changes on the ground or suspicious movements as well as remotely piloted trucks with machine guns that can neutralize threats.
The concept of a smart, multidimensional smart border which is based on technology and intelligence alongside combat forces, would allow the IDF to reorganize troop configuration therefore increasing force protection and raising operational lethality.
Should it be found to be successful, the concept will then be extended along the entire border.
Since the Great March of Return demonstrations began in 2018, several rounds of violent clashes between the Israeli military and terror groups have taken place in the Strip. The rounds of violence have seen hundreds of rockets fired towards Israel-with 912 in 2018, 1070 in 2019, and 206 in 2020.
All of them ended without any tangible solution, leading the IDF to change its concept towards a new approach called “Southern Wind” that would use higher quality intelligence and firepower to shorten the length of the operation.
During some 50 hours of fighting during the operation, over 400 rockets were fired by the Iranian-backed terror group, 90% of those fired towards residential areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Some 25 PIJ operatives taking part in rocket fire and other more complex terror attacks against Israel were killed and some 100 targets belonging to the group were struck by Israel.
Early on Sunday morning, a year after al-Ata’s killing, two rockets were fired from the Strip towards central Israel. While the timing was suspicious, the IDF believes that the two rockets, belonging to Hamas, were fired after a lightning bolt hit an electrical panel that was connected to an underground launcher in a field near the neighborhood of Sajaiya.
In the days leading up to the launch, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad worked to restrain operatives from launching rockets to mark the anniversary, carrying out preventative arrests and patrolled launch areas.
Hamas understands that Israel has no intention to occupy Gaza and acts to refrain operatives from terror groups and lone actors from carrying out attacks that would break the tense understanding with Israel.
With the corona pandemic wreaking havoc in the blockaded enclave, Hamas is in no mood for conflict with Israel. Though the group was able to effectively deal with the virus during the first wave, 51 Gazans have officially died from coronavirus and thousands more have been infected.
The IDF estimates that the actual number of deaths is much higher and expects that the coming months will be a significant challenge for Hamas.
Despite the relative quiet in the south, the military knows that the next round of violence is always around the corner and has its operational plans at the ready should they be needed.