For years, Gaza has been shrouded in mystery, with hidden underground tunnels serving as both a lifeline and a cause for concern. The recent discovery of a tunnel shaft beneath al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza has once again thrust these secretive passageways into the spotlight.
On Sunday, the Israeli military unveiled the shocking news that they had uncovered a 55-meter-long tunnel beneath al-Shifa Hospital. This underground passage, found underneath a shed near the hospital, contained a cache of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, and rifles. The find was documented on footage taken by two separate cameras on November 17.
Experts analyzed the video and raised interesting observations. While the vertical shaft appeared to be constructed using traditional civil engineering techniques, such as load-bearing concrete columns, the purpose behind this section of the tunnel remains a mystery. However, the horizontal tunnel displayed telltale signs of Hamas-style engineering, with pre-fabricated pieces connected together section by section.
But is there any evidence to support the claim that Hamas was operating a military control center beneath the hospital? Israeli troops have not yet attempted to open the blast door at the end of the tunnel, fearing that it might be booby-trapped. This caution raises questions about the veracity of the Israeli military’s claims. Additionally, explosion experts have not been called in to assess the situation, as is typically done to ensure the safety of the troops involved.
It is worth noting that Gaza has a long history of underground tunnel networks. Initially constructed in the 1980s for smuggling purposes, the tunnels took on a military role in 2001 when an Israeli military post was destroyed by an underground explosive. Since then, these tunnels have become a means to bypass the blockade placed on Gaza by Israel and transport essential supplies, including food, goods, and weapons.
Hamas has strategically expanded these tunnels over the years. They not only serve as a means of transporting goods but also provide vital wired communication channels, as wireless communications can be intercepted by Israel. The discovery of these tunnels during the 2014 attack on Gaza highlighted their extensive reach, estimated to exceed 100 kilometers.
While al-Shifa Hospital is not the only medical facility accused by Israel of housing Hamas military bases, it is essential to approach such claims with caution. The alleged presence of tunnels beneath Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics was debunked by Al Jazeera’s digital investigation team. Satellite images and archival photos revealed that the entrance touted as a tunnel hatch was, in fact, part of a water reservoir system used for the hospital’s amputee pools and emergency water supply.
In the realm of hidden tunnels, the truth is often elusive. Uncovering these underground passageways requires careful examination and verification. As new information emerges, it is crucial to critically assess claims and consider the complex dynamics at play in the Gaza Strip.
FAQs About Hidden Tunnels in Gaza
Q: How do the tunnels in Gaza function?
A: Originally built for smuggling purposes, these tunnels serve as a means to bypass the blockade on Gaza and transport essential supplies, including food, goods, and weapons. They also provide wired communication channels for Hamas, as wireless communication can be intercepted.
Q: Are there tunnels under other hospitals in Gaza?
A: Israel has alleged the presence of tunnels beneath other hospitals in Gaza, such as Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Hospital. However, investigations have revealed that these claims lack sufficient evidence.
Q: Who constructs these tunnels?
A: The construction of these tunnels is primarily carried out by Hamas. Over time, they have strategically expanded and fortified these underground networks.
Q: Are the tunnels dangerous?
A: The tunnels can pose a threat due to the potential presence of booby traps, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These traps are designed to detect the presence of individuals and can be triggered by tripwires or even light or pressure.
Q: How extensive are these tunnel networks?
A: The exact extent of the tunnel networks is difficult to determine. However, during the 2014 attack on Gaza, they were estimated to exceed 100 kilometers.
Q: Are there alternative means to verify the presence of tunnels?
A: It is crucial to approach claims about tunnels with skepticism and rely on thorough investigations, such as satellite imagery analysis and expert verification, to validate their existence.