Israel’s energy minister confirmed that Egypt has been flooding the newly built Hamas terror tunnels at Gaza’s southern border, largely at Israel’s request.
Speaking in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva on Saturday, Yuval Steinitz, minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, touched upon the security coordination between Israel and Egypt, which, he said, is “better than ever.” He was alluding to the collapse of several Hamas terror tunnels in recent weeks, seemingly due to heavy rains, although it has become evident that nature wasn’t the only reason for the destruction of the terror infrastructure.
Israel eliminated most of the Hamas tunnels during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, but the terrorist organization began rebuilding them from scratch; some were reported to have reached underground into Israeli territory.
Hamas acknowledged on Wednesday that two of its operatives were killed in a tunnel collapse the previous day. At least two other tunnel collapses reportedly occurred the same week.
IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, refused to say whether Israel was involved in the tunnel collapses when asked by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, Times of Israel reported.
“God knows,” he answered, according to the news agency. “I would suggest the residents of the Gaza Strip not to occupy themselves with the tunnels and to get away from them, especially after seeing the results in recent days,” he added, according to the Times report.
At least seven Hamas workers died and three were reported missing the previous week, when a tunnel collapsed in northeastern Gaza following a heavy rainstorm, although, reports indicate, Hamas initially tried covering up that incident.
“The resistance factions are in a state of ongoing preparation underground, above ground, on land and sea,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh boasted at a rally honoring the seven dead terrorists.
Already in September, Hamas issued a statement demanding that Egypt cease flooding its smuggling tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai peninsula. Also that month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended a statement by the Egyptian president calling for increased cooperation against terrorism.
“If we are attacked from tunnels from the Gaza Strip, we will take very strong action against Hamas – much stronger than we took in Operation Protective Edge,” Netanyahu warned last week in an address to a conference of diplomats.