Video shows Islamic Jihad digging new Gaza tunnels

Video shows Islamic Jihad digging new Gaza tunnels

Al-Jazeera TV reporter descends beneath the border with Israel to see preparations for ‘next battle’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A tunnel found in the northern Gaza Strip by the Israel Defense Forces, August 3, 2014. (IDF spokesperson/Flash90)
A tunnel found in the northern Gaza Strip by the Israel Defense Forces, August 3, 2014. (IDF spokesperson/Flash90)

Gazan terror group Islamic Jihad is rebuilding tunnels beneath the Strip, including some that are to burrow under the border with Israel, according to a report from Al-Jazeera TV.

In a video broadcast by the Qatar-based news channel last week, a reporter was given access to digging operations that, he said, began as soon as the recent conflict in Gaza ended.

English subtitles for the video were provided Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

At the start of the clip the reporter is shown being taken blindfolded to the tunnel entrance to conceal its location. Once inside the tunnel the reporter, who must hunch over in order to make his way along the low passageway, explains that it is being “dug by resistance fighters in this border area.”

The tunnel looks similar to dozens of others discovered by IDF forces in the past with cement blocks positioned to shore up the walls and roof.

“What is remarkable about this tunnel is that it is has been dug recently,” he says. “As you can see it is still being dug.”

On Sunday unnamed defense officials rejected claims by another senior official that Hamas has already begun rearming and rebuilding its attack tunnels, less than two weeks into an open-ended truce in the Gaza Strip.

The tunnels became a main objective of a ground invasion of Gaza in July, and several were used to carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers both in the Strip and in Israel.

During the seven-week long military campaign, the IDF destroyed over 30 tunnels dug under the border with Israel.

The sides agreed to cease hostilities in late August, after 50 days of fighting.

Islamic Jihad operates as a separate, and sometimes rival, organization to Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

In the video, workers can be seen dragging chains of large buckets of excavated sand from the tunnel.

“There have been some cave-ins,” the reporter says,” but the work goes on.”

At the end of the tunnel, a worker is seen digging sand away to lengthen the passage.

“We are now in one of the tunnels of the Al-Quds Brigades,” the worker explains, using the name of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, “on which work began as soon as the war on Gaza ended, and the ceasefire was declared. We have begun work and we are continuing it regardless of the threats by the Zionist enemy.”

“We will not be hindered by the threats of the enemy, or by the ban on importing cement and other building materials,” he adds.

When asked about the purpose of the tunnels, the worker responds: “We are getting these tunnels ready for the next battle in order to launch attacks and fire mortars and artillery.”

“These tunnels will also have other uses which we will not disclose,” he adds in the video.

The reporter was also shown another, more developed tunnel, that included underground firing positions from which Islamic Jihad fighters plan to emerge in order to fire anti-tank missiles at IDF armored forces should they enter Gaza.

In the video, its members openly demonstrated how they plan to set up the weapons and also showed off a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile.

At the beginning of the week an unnamed senior official said Hamas had resumed digging the cross-border tunnels, replenishing its weapons stockpile, and manufacturing projectiles.

“We see that they’ve already started smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt, producing rockets and repairing the tunnels,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Citing intelligence information, the source said that Hamas’s ability to produce rockets has been severely hit, but added that about 40 percent of the terrorist group’s rocket-creation facility is still functional.

Other officials later denied that Hamas had begun rearming.

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