The expense and effort that the terrorist organization Hamas is putting into building attack tunnels while the Gaza Strip, which it rules, is mired in poverty shows that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in an analysis  for The Gatestone Institute on Tuesday.
The collapse  of a terror tunnel last week, in which seven terrorists were killed, “provides further proof that the Islamist movement has stayed true to its charter, which calls for the total destruction of Israel,” Abu Toameh observed.
“We have enough mujahideen [jihad warriors] to replace their brothers who were martyred [in the tunnel collapse],” senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayeh said at the funeral of the seven terrorists who died. Abu Toameh observed that the comments show that Hamas is ready “to sacrifice as many Palestinians as it takes” to achieve its goal of destroying Israel.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that between 2006 and 2011, 188 Gazans were killed digging tunnels, and ten percent of those deaths were of children under the age of 18.
“Hamas has invested millions of dollars into its tunnel-building projects,” while Gaza’s economy is in shambles, Abu Toameh noted. Gaza had an unemployment rate of over 40 percent in 2015, and 65 percent of Gazans live under the poverty line. In addition, more than half of Gaza’s population depends of foreign aid organizations. Abu Toameh reported that political rivals inside Gaza have begun calling Hamas leaders “merchants of war” for the way they have accrued their own wealth through smuggling, at the expense of the underpaid workers who dig the tunnels at great personal risk. “Hamas wants the Palestinians to continue living in misery and bitterness,” he added.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has once again reached out to Hamas as part of reconciliation efforts between his Fatah party and the terror organization, Abu Toameh reported. But Abu Toameh wrote that the idea that Hamas would ever moderate its position towards Israel is an “illusion,” meaning that “Hamas will never exchange its attack tunnels for PA cabinet portfolios.”
It wasn’t just seven Hamas members who died last week, Abu Toameh concluded, but also the myth that “Hamas will somehow transform itself into a ‘peace partner’ for Israel, the Palestinian Authority or even the Palestinian people.”
Two terrorists were killed  in a separate tunnel collapse after Abu Toameh’s article was published.
Numerous analysts have observed that Hamas’ control over the Gaza Strip is one of the major obstacles  to Palestinian statehood.
[Photo: Emad Nassar / Flash90  ]