This week began with strenuous Israeli military activity all along the border fence with the Gaza Strip, including a troop buildup, Merkava Mark 4 tanks’ deployment and preparation of temporary congregation and parking lots. The IDF also closed off roads to civilian traffic and instructed farm workers to stay away from the fields along the border. Clearly, something was afoot below ground, even as tense calm prevailed above. On Oct. 20, the secret was revealed with an IDF announcement that it had identified a Hamas attack tunnel dug from Gaza stretching a few dozen of meters into Israel. “A very, very significant terror tunnel,” was how IDF Chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi described it the next day.
The tunnel is not only significant and strategic in nature, it is also the first known dividend of the massive underground barrier that Israel has dug along the Gaza border to a depth of several dozen meters. The “barrier,” as it is dubbed, is a unique and highly complex Israeli innovation designed to put an end to the strategic tunnel weapon developed and used by Hamas in recent years when it realized it would be unable to prevail against the IDF on the ground, in the air or sea. With the recent quasi-completion of the barrier, Hamas has also been deprived of this subterranean military theater.