Photo Credit: US Embassy / IDF
US Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt touring Hamas terror tunnel in Israel with IDF escort

U.S. Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt expressed his outrage Monday night over the latest terror tunnel built by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization.

“Hamas literally undermines Gaza’s chance for success,” Greenblatt tweeted overnight, “now building a terror tunnel under a crossing to Israel that should be a conduit toward a better economy.

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“A terror tunnel costs roughly $5.9 million to build,” he continued in a second tweet, “($ that belongs to the people of Gaza) plus roughly $30,000 a day in lost revenue when the crossing is closed as a result.”

In a third tweet Greenblatt continued, “Gaza needs options besides Hamas and its enablers. Time to stop pouring money into violence and hatred, and to start investing in a real future for Palestinians in Gaza.”

Greenblatt met earlier in the day with Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, to “discuss economic issues related to the peace process,” he said.

On Sunday, Greenblatt said in a statement posted on the website of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that he toured the Gaza border and was briefed on the security situation. He also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “and his senior staff” to discuss “peace efforts,” he said in a separate tweet.

“I am deeply angered by Hamas’ continued terror activity, including the digging of tunnels that facilitate terrorist activities,” he said in the statement on the Consulate website.

“Such activities show Hamas’ continued exploitation of the people of Gaza and Hamas’ threats to stability and security in the region. The tour gave me a general insight into the current situation and greatly improved my understanding. I strongly encourage all countries and institutional donors who are trying to assist the people of Gaza to take this tour to understand this difficult, tragic and complex situation. We must all work together to help the people of Gaza, ensure Israel’s and Egypt’s security, and improve lives.”

Greenblatt added that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other extremists continue to build up their military strength “at the expense of the civilian population, causing danger to the people of Gaza, Israel, and Egypt.”

He called on Hamas to return the bodies of IDF officers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed by Hamas during a cease-fire period in the 2014 war in Gaza – and with whose families he met last week.

Greenblatt also called on the terrorist organization to release the Israeli civilians they are holding: Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima.

“This is a humanitarian issue and Hamas must return all Israelis,” Greenblatt said.

“During the upcoming meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels, I look forward to the Government of Israel presenting various upcoming projects and policy measures that we have been discussing which will improve the reality in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

“I sincerely hope that the international community will commit to funding these measures according to development priorities and providing the necessary resources to bring them to fruition.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.