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Third Gaza War Averted Largest Terror Attack On Israel Ever

By Missing Peace
New tunnel under Israel Gaza borderNew tunnel under Israel Gaza border

Last week, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in Israel published an extensive investigation into operation Protective Edge- better known as the Third Gaza War- in the summer of 2014.

Hirsch Goodman was one of the authors of the report; he confirmed that the war averted a major disaster for Israel.

Already during the war, Israeli media reported that Hamas had planned a mega-terror attack that was scheduled to be carried out on Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year).

Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of captured Hamas fighters, described a scenario under which hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters would have spilled out into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes have been in a position to infiltrate several sparsely populated and lightly guarded Israeli communities. Palestinian terrorists would have sought to “kill and kidnap as many Israelis as they could.”

Details of the plot, which were first published by the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv, described it as set to take place when Israelis would have been celebrating the Jewish New Year, on or around September 24, 2014. Observers noted that attack scenarios lined up with recently revealed data about the scope and nature of the offensive tunnel network.

The IDF later published a map showing that the tunnels were created to empty out on both sides of nearby communities. Israeli military officials had already reported that the tunnel entrances were stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, ropes, and other materials useful for subduing abducted civilians and soldiers. And the known cost of the infrastructure – with each tunnel costing roughly $1 million – implies that Hamas leaders were planning a coordinated mega-attack, since use of even one of the tunnels was likely to trigger an Israeli retaliation against the entire network.

Goodman divulged additional details about the planned mega-attack:

“At the heart of the plan was a sophisticated network of attack tunnels designed to run under the Israeli border, on which tens of millions of dollars had been spent. They were built with enough cement to build two multi-story hospitals, 20 schools, three apartment towers, and several other public structures, at a conservative estimate.

“Hamas’ use of tunnels for smuggling weapons and goods into Gaza, as well as for defensive purposes, was well known. But what was discovered during this war was something on a completely different scale: a network of 32 underground attack tunnels with multiple branches and exits in various stages of construction, many destined to go deep under the border into Israel, with the capacity to facilitate the passage of hundreds, if not thousands, of armed terrorists on a mission of mass slaughter against Israel’s heartland.

“With funding from Qatar, among others, Hamas had built the infrastructure for a surprise attack using the tunnels in tandem with raining thousands of rockets on Israeli civilian centers, some with three times the population density of Gaza.2 This planned assault likely would have been reinforced by attacks by frogmen from the sea and terrorists trained on paragliders to reach strategic targets deep inside Israel from the air,3 based on what is now known of Hamas’ force build-up.

“This was potentially Hamas’ terrorist version of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli forces in Sinai and the Golan Heights. In this case, however, Israel’s cities were to be the battlefields and civilians the victims of war. It would not have been an attack to regain territory lost in war, but an indelible reminder that Hamas would never accept Israel’s existence,” Goodman wrote.

At the moment that the Israeli government realized what Hamas had planned to do, and the IDF discovered and destroyed one tunnel after another, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to broker a ceasefire. The Israeli government, however, voted for modifications in the proposed truce because it first wanted the IDF to destroy all tunnels. Kerry later blamed Israel for not immediately accepting his proposal that called for a weeklong ceasefire

He claimed progress in the negotiations but acknowledged that Israel “has some questions.” With evident irritation, he said the Israeli cabinet vote was engineered to make “mischief.”

It is not clear if Kerry knew about the plot for a mega attack, but he certainly knew about the scope of the tunnel threat.

This week, the same Israeli media reported that Hamas is again building tunnels with construction materials meant for the rehabilitation of Gaza. The rebuilding of the tunnels was first reported by Gal Berger from Reshet Bet (Radio 2) in December 2014.

Palestinian sources told Berger that cement and building materials had been transferred to Gaza for its rehabilitation–and that those materials, specifically, are being used to rebuild the tunnels.

In a related development, three Israelis were indicted on Monday for smuggling iron and other materials to Gaza over the past two years. The materials were used to build tunnels and to manufacture weapons.

Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet said that the three had established a “smuggling lane from Israel to Hamas,” and added that it was a “well-oiled machine operated by Hamas to purchase tools and materials that aided in bolstering its military capabilities in Gaza.” The Shin Bet also said that much of the materials were transferred directly to Hamas training camps.

At the same time, Hamas is building new rockets in order to restore its depleted arsenal. The isolated regime in Gaza tries to mend the damaged ties with Iran; but until now, Hamas’ position on Syria has prevented full reconciliation with Tehran. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal backed the uprising against Assad and moved his headquarters from Damascus to Qatar in 2012. Iran demands that Meshaal publicly declare his support for the Assad regime. But Hamas refuses to comply.

The regime in Gaza faces a financial crisis after Egypt destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels underneath the border with Gaza. The only power plant in Gaza shut down this week following a dispute with the PA in Ramallah over the fuel tax. Hamas pays the PA for fuel imported to the Gaza Strip but is running out of cash. The power plant in Gaza shuts down up to 18 hours a day.

This week, Israel has stepped in to help ease the ongoing water crisis in Gaza. Water supply by Israel has increased from 1.3 to 2.6 billion gallons. The news about the water supply came after Hamas helped distribute the myth that Israel opened (non-existing) dams in southern Israel to flood parts of Gaza. AFP and Al-Jazeerah were among the media outlets that repeated the false claim.

The regime in Gaza has become increasingly isolated after Egypt cracked down on Hamas and closed hundreds of tunnels near Rafah. Cairo also outlawed Hamas and declared it a terrorist organization. This week, Egyptian Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber said that the authorities would arrest any Hamas member found in the country.
This article also appeared at: www.westernjournalism.com