The IDF confirmed this week that Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization planned a massive terror attack on Israel via its tunnel network this September.
IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner said the terror group planned to infiltrate into multiple Jewish communities through tunnels under Israel’s southern border.
Terrorists would have then murdered and abducted as many victims as possible, “inflicting mass casualties,” he said in an interview published Tuesday in Vanity Fair.
“Hamas had a plan. . . A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel. They planned to send 200 terrorists armed to the teeth toward civilian populations. This was going to be a coordinated attack. The concept of operations involved 14 offensive tunnels into Israel. With at least 10 men in each tunnel, they would infiltrate and inflict mass casualties,” Lerner told the publication.
This is not the first report of such a plan. During the latter weeks of Operation Protective Edge, Hebrew-language Israeli media also quoted unnamed military officials who told of the “grand plan” by Hamas, which was alleged at that time to be set for Rosh HaShanah.
Hamas used its terror tunnel network with great success in June 2006 to murder IDF soldiers and kidnap then-IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who remained in captivity until 2011.
Israel traded more than a thousand Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists – including hundreds of bloodthirsty murderers serving long sentences – in order to rescue Shalit from Gaza.
Destroying the Hamas terror tunnel network was one of two main objectives of Operation Protective Edge this past summer; the other was to silence the incessant rocket and missile fire aimed at Israeli civilians by Gaza terrorists.
According to the IDF, 38 tunnels were destroyed during the operation before Israel was forced to end the operation due to pressure from the international community, and the United States. Many of the tunnels that were destroyed led directly into Israel from Gaza, and were to be used as conduits for terror attacks in Israel.
Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal referred to them as “defensive” tunnels, according to the report in Vanity Fair.
“The tunnels may have been outwardly called ‘offensive tunnels’ but in actual fact they are ‘defensive’ ones,” Meshaal was quoted as saying.
Two Hamas terror cells emerged from those tunnels, near Kibbutz Nir Am and Kibbutz Erez, on July 21 – during the 50-day war with Hamas.
A bloody battle ensued between IDF soldiers and the heavily armed terrorists, preventing what might otherwise have been wholesale slaughter in a defenseless civilian Israeli village or town.