Despite the Israeli military’s efforts to destroy all tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, Hamas still has some that it can use to penetrate Israel, Hamas commander Abu Laith tells The Times of London (paywall), warning that Israel will have “no security” as long as Gaza has none.
The 43-year-old Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades fighter, who has ventured out of his home due to a 72-hour ceasefire with Israel, tells the UK paper that the terrorist organization also still has “enough rockets, more than the enemy can imagine,” with which to target Israel. Though he admits some of the “terror tunnels” Hamas dug to attack Israel have “partially collapsed,” he says the tunnel network as a whole has not been destroyed.
He indicates that his Hamas comrades’ thirst for battle has not been quenched, either. “They would rather be killed on the battlefield than be a martyr on the surface,” he says.
“We prepared for a long battle. We can target cities we have not even hit in this war. We can penetrate the Israeli border again,” he says. “We only fought with 10 per cent of our forces, the rest are on standby.”
Abu Laith, a seasoned fighter, also says this latest war with Israel was the most brutal he has seen since joining Hamas in the 1990s, during the first intifata.
“It was a completely different conflict to the ones in the past,” he says. “In 2008, the airstrike and air surveillance took us by surprise. That war cost us a lot, so we made strategic plans to move the battle from the surface to underground.”
He is adamant that Hamas has, for the most part, not re-armed by receiving weapons from abroad.
“We’ve been accused of foreign funding but most of our weapons are made by Palestinians locally, despite being under siege,” Abu Laith says, holding up a homemade sniper round and noting that Hamas even has female engineers within its ranks. “We smuggle in materials via the tunnels and the sea.”