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Analyst: With Strike on Tunnel, Israel Averted Major Terror Attack

In his analysis of Operation Protective Edge, Ron Ben Yishai, military analyst of Yedioth Ahronot, wrote about the significance of the terror tunnel that was destroyed yesterday.

The military wing, in addition to the failure of the kidnap of the three teens in Gush Etzion, suffered a severe setback on Sunday when Israel foiled a strategic attack that Hamas has long been planning. The plan was to enter Israel through a system of terror tunnels that would emanate from the southern Gaza Strip, in the Rafah area, and kill civilians and soldiers with bombs and ambushes by backup forces. This was supposed to be the surprise opening salvo in the next major conflict.

But the plan was discovered and thwarted thanks to the damage inflicted on the tunnels on Saturday night by the Air Force. On Monday, the tunnel opening in Israel was also probably exposed. Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who went into the tunnel to carry out some damage control or to lay further explosives ahead of the operation were caught when their own explosive devices detonated for reasons that are as yet unclear. Aside from the eight fatalities, this was a heavy blow that defuses the ability to make good on some of the threats that have been made recently.

(The IDF reported that it hit the tunnel Monday.)

Hamas’s use of tunnels to launch terror attacks has been a fear ever since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006. The fear that Hamas would use tunnels as a means of carrying out terror attacks was reignited when the IDF discovered a tunnel that ended near a kindergarten in Israel last October. A second tunnel was found a few days later.

The new tunnel stretched dozens of yards into Israel, and Hamas terrorists may have intended to pack it with explosives in the process of launching a spectacular attack. Veteran Israeli war correspondent Ron Ben Yishai suggested that the tunnel indicates ongoing efforts by Hamas to conduct terrorism against Israelis, an evaluation that aligns with the worries of analysts who worry that the Iran-backed terror group may be trying to halt a slide in its stature by conducting a spectacular terror attack.

In March of this year, the IDF discovered another smuggling tunnel.

In their search for Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkal, the IDF discovered that Hamas had built similar tunnels in Hebron.

The video embedded below shows some of the training the IDF’s elite Yahalom (Hebrew for “diamond”) unit goes through in learning how to discover and secure smuggling tunnels.

[Photo: idfnadesk / YouTube ]