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The “Tunnel Strategy” Among Palestinian Armed Factions in the Gaza Strip

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Abu Zbeid’s research shows that “the tunnel strategy” is perceived as a central tool in the combat doctrine of Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza, especially Hamas. Operation “Protective Edge” (2014) reinforced the perception that the tunnels will play a special and central role in the next war against Israel, not only due to the recognition that Gaza’s topography is not ideal for fighting against Israel but also due to the various uses made of the tunnels. They can be used to infiltrate deep into Israel; to cause casualties and even abduct a soldier to use as a bargaining chip; to block the advance of IDF forces into the Gaza Strip and to sabotage Israel’s war plans; to defend the lives of jihad fighters and the Palestinian leadership; to launch missiles from concealed tunnels; to stockpile weapons; to demoralize the IDF and Israeli civilians to the point that they evacuate Gaza envelope communities; and more.

It is clear that this perception, and the understanding that Israel has not yet succeeded in finding a complete solution to the tunnel threat, strengthen the resolve of Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions to invest tremendous efforts in constructing additional tunnels and improving them. For example, the author recommended constructing tunnels that would differ from one another in structure and shape to make it harder for them to be exposed by Israel. According to the terrorist organizations, the logical integration of tunnels and the launching of missiles at Israel could give them breathing room and allow them to overcome the military and technological advantage of the IDF, and no less importantly, to sow demoralization and fear among the Israeli civilian population.

In April 2018, Abu Zbeid reiterated that the Palestinian resistance factions, headed by Hamas, were not afraid of statements made by Israeli politicians that they had succeeded in developing new technological tools capable of eliminating all the tunnels in Gaza. On the contrary, he said they were determined to develop the tunnel system, “to continue the plan of the resistance with all tools and to rely on the strategic tunnel weapons to defend Gaza.”[1]

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