Iran funds Hamas to rebuild terror tunnels in Gaza

IDF soldier walking through a tunnel uncovered under IsraelIDF soldier walking through a tunnel uncovered under Israel

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, Iran has sent Hamas tens of millions of dollars to finance the rebuilding of the Gaza terror tunnels which the IDF destroyed last summer.

The paper cites intelligence sources.

According to the same report, Iran is also paying for restocking Hamas’s arsenal of missiles, aimed at Israeli civilian centres.

An IDF senior officer said recently that Hamas is again attempting to dig tunnels into Israel. In an interview with Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, IDF Southern Command head General Sami Turgeman said that while the IDF destroyed most of the tunnels during Operation Protective Edge, it appeared that the terror group was using the resources that are now pouring into Gaza to rebuild homes and businesses to instead rebuild its terror network.

“It is clear that they have gone back to digging tunnels, and they apparently hope to reach at least the numbers they had before the war last summer,” Turgeman said.

Although the destruction of the tunnel network was a major blow to Hamas, because it had poured so much money and energy into building it, the tunnels had proven themselves an effective weapon against Israel from terror group’s point of view, Turgeman said, so it was decided that the network be rebuilt regardless of the cost – in money or, as is likely to happen, in further damage to Gaza when Israel is forced to once again bomb Gaza in order to prevent tunnel attacks.

On Monday, Israel’s Defence Ministry said that Israeli forces had prevented the smuggling of advanced electronic goods into the Gaza Strip, destined to boost the capabilities of terror groups against Israel.

Security staff at the Kerem Shalom crossing, one of two Gaza border crossings administered by Israel, intercepted a truck which according to the Defence Ministry was transporting goods including “infra-red cameras, communications devices and remote-control security cameras.” The statement explained, “The suspicion is that the shipment was intended for terro”organisations.”The Defence Ministry added that it was the second such interception within a week and that since the start of 2015, more than 100 attempts “to smuggle forbidden goods and substances” had been thwarted by Israeli forces.

During 2015, Israel has introduced a range of measures meant to ease movement in and out of the Gaza Strip, in order to aid reconstruction. The amount of water Israel supplies to Gaza was doubled after a coastal aquifer had become ineffective. Israel also increased the number of entry and exit permits to Gaza merchants and has also facilitated the export of significant Gaza produce to the West Bank, an important market for the Gaza economy. However, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has remained largely closed by Cairo since October, after a suicide bombing in Sinai killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers.

Iran’s renewed support of Hamas is a sign of a revival in Iran-Hamas relations, allies previously torn apart over the conflict in Syria, where Shiite Iran backed President Bashar Assad, while Hamas stood by its Sunni allies.

In addition to backing Hamas, Iran has been funding the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Shi’ite Iraqi government forces in Tikrit.

A Western security official told the Telegraph that Iran is “trying very hard to increase its influence throughout the Middle East region.”

Iran’s army, the Al-Quds force, led by General Qassem Suleimani, has been contributing a lot to the goal of fostering a Shiite hegemony over the Middle East.

The Al-Quds force is behind the Shi’ite Houthi rebels taking over Yemen, behind the Shiite Iraqi government’s battles to recapture the Suni city of Tikrit, and behind the Hezbollah and President Assad’s effort to stop the Sunni uprising in Syria.

According to The Telegraph, General Suleimani is back from the front in Tehran.

Yet its exerted influence is not being welcomed by other Middle Easter powers: Iran’s overseas operations arm, the Al-Quds force, has been ordered to withdraw from Tikrit, while a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen is working  to counter Iran-backed Houthi forces.

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