Gaza Conflict Flares as Israel Battles Threats from Above, Below

Gaza rocket fire resumed. Spent Palestinian rocket. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Just the week after reports that Israel and Hamas had reached a truce, Israel said they had uncovered an underground tunnel crossing from Gaza into Israel and then were attacked by another Gaza rocket—all on the same day. The tunnel was announced first, with the IDF website saying the “terror tunnel” stretched “dozens of meters” into Israeli territory. “This is a violation of Israeli sovereignty, an attempt to terrorize our civilians & an abuse of international humanitarian aid. We hold Hamas accountable and stand prepared,” tweeted the IDF regarding the tunnel. Such terror tunnels have been used by Gaza terrorists in the past to launch attacks, such as the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

In a matter of hours of the tunnel announcement, the threat shifted from below ground to the sky, as sirens sounded in southern Israel warning of rocketfire. The IDF Twitter account said the rocket launched from Gaza was intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system. “Just 2 hours after we exposed a terror tunnel dug from Gaza into Israel, terrorists in Gaza fired one rocket toward Israeli civilians,” said the post, which also stated that “we will protect Israeli civilians from threats above and below ground.”

The IDF launched a counterstrike, hitting “underground Hamas infrastructure” per another IDF tweet.

Prior to the rocket attack and Israel’s response to it, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the terror tunnel discovery by stating his country’s resolute intent to defend itself. “We will continue to take determined action in all sectors for the security of Israel and against any attempt to attack our sovereignty or our citizens,” said Netanyahu in comments on Tuesday released by his office.

While the underground tunnel highlights the ongoing threat from Gaza—truce or no truce—the incident also illustrated Israel’s exceptional efforts to defend against tunnels. The IDF website said that the tunnel was detected by the underground Sensory Concrete Barrier. The terror tunnel did not penetrate the barrier, which is constructed deeper inside Israeli territory rather than right on the border. With the barrier doing its job, the IDF statement said that the terror tunnel was no threat to Israeli communities.

“The Sensory Concrete Barrier, which was built over the last years and will be completed soon, provided the necessary indication for IDF engineering forces to locate the offensive terror tunnel,” said the IDF website.

So in a matter of hours, it was revealed that Israel’s tunnel defense system had helped stop an underground threat and the Iron Dome missile defense system silenced an aerial attack. Said the IDF website. “The IDF is determined to fulfill its mission to defend Israeli sovereignty and civilians, and will continue mitigating terror above and below ground wherever required.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 20, 2020)


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