Israel’s Destruction of a Terror Tunnel Dealt a Harsh Blow to Hamas and Islamic Jihad

On Monday, the IDF demolished a tunnel, constructed by Islamic Jihad, that stretched from inside Gaza to an Israeli kibbutz. The IDF reportedly used new monitoring technology to detect and locate the subterranean passageway. Yoni Ben Menachem writes:

The tunnel-digging is a large-scale project that employs thousands of people and costs tens of millions of dollars. Hamas and Islamic Jihad receive financial and technological assistance from Iran for the project. A large portion of the financial resources also comes from tax revenues that are supposed to alleviate Gaza’s electricity, water, and employment shortages but are diverted to tunnel-building.

On October 24, 2017, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza who is also the commander of the organization’s military wing, boasted that [his forces] can now fire in 51 minutes the same number of rockets they fired at Israel during the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge [in 2014]. . . . Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the tunnels into Israeli territory as a “strategic weapon” that deters Israel.

They have adopted a tunnel-digging method taken from the Viet Cong playbook. The aim is to infiltrate Israel by surprise with large forces that will capture territories, attack communities and IDF bases near the Gaza border, and kidnap civilians and soldiers for bargaining purposes. . . . The . . . subterranean offensive [would] take place when Hamas and Islamic Jihad launch a ground and rocket offensive, surprising Israel and establishing a major military advantage in the initial stages of the fighting. . . .

Beyond the eight Palestinian operatives who were killed in the strike on the tunnel, including the commander of Islamic Jihad’s central-Gaza brigade and his deputy, the operation dealt a harsh operational and psychological blow to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The organizations had portrayed the tunnels as a special weapon for which Israel had no solution.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Gaza, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security

 

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine