|CUFI, January 12, 2016.|
It has been reported that Hamas has essentially rebuilt its tunnel network stemming from the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war.
Eighteen months after the last Israel-Hamas war, the Islamist terror group is believed to have rebuilt much of its cross-border tunnel infrastructure, with almost as many terror tunnels reaching under the Gaza border into Israel as before the summer 2014 conflict, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.During the 2014 war it was dismaying to hear that Israel was advancing into Gaza to blow up Hamas' tunnels. It should have been readily apparent that if the pre-July 2014 status quo was allowed to remain after the war then Hamas would just rebuild the tunnels again.
“Hamas is investing considerable effort and immense amounts of money in the tunnel project,” the report said. “The reasonable assessment is that the number of tunnels that extend beneath the border (into Israel) is now close to the number prior to (2014’s) Operation Protective Edge.”The Israel Defense Forces said it destroyed more than 30 Hamas terror tunnels during the 50-day conflict, about one-third of which extended beneath the Gaza border into Israel, and several of which were used to stage attacks. (The Times of Israel, January 12, 2016.)
Partly because of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade Gaza has a staggering unemployment rate of 43 %, the highest unemployment rate in the world.
The report estimates that Gaza’s GDP would have been about four times higher than it currently is if it weren’t for the conflicts and the multiple restrictions. It also states that the blockade in place since 2007 has shaved around 50 percent off Gaza’s GDP. Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world at 43 percent. Even more alarming is the situation of youth unemployment which soared to more than 60 percent by the end of 2014. (Gaza Economy on the Verge of Collapse, Youth Unemployment Highest in the Region at 60 Percent, The World Bank, May 21, 2015.)With so many of the Palestinians of Gaza in such desperate economic straits even dangerous work digging tunnels will seem like an attractive employment option despite its dangers. The Palestinians of Gaza have all the time in the world to master the construction of such tunnels because of the blockade.
If there was no blockade the Palestinians of Gaza would go to and fro just like everybody else and there would be no tunnels to worry about.
66 Israeli soldiers were killed in the 2014 war. Some of them were killed on missions to destroy these tunnels. But it should have been apparent that the tunnels are merely a symptom of the blockade and the accompanying political crisis between the State of Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza. The 2014 war did nothing to change the political and economic motivations that made those tunnels seem a worthwhile prospect to the Palestinians of Gaza.
I am reminded of what J Street, a pro-Israel lobby group that some Israelis and pro-Israel people choose to loathe, wrote in a pamphlet of theirs.
The Gaza conflict has shown once again that there is no military solution to the long-term threats to Israel’s security, only a political one that addresses the root causes of the larger conflict. (J Street, p. 2.)Why were those 66 Israeli soldiers, some of them being conscripts, sent out to die on a mission that should have been readily apparent would deliver so little? Didn't anyone in the Israeli political-military leadership note that Hamas would simply rebuild those tunnels unless the political situation was drastically changed? It is frightening to imagine that the political-military leadership of the State of Israel sent those soldiers in deadly missions that gained so little.
Where is the accountability? Shouldn't someone within the Israeli political-military leadership be held accountable for sending those precious, unique individuals to die while gaining so little?
It is just such a frightful waste of precious human life. War is so terrible.
With the blockade still in place it is practically certain that a similar war will again erupt. More terrible things will occur so long as there is no peace. We need peace now.
May peace soon come to the Holy Land.