Hamas Tunnel System Rivals Viet Cong’s Cu Chi Underground

A massive tunnel system running from Gaza to the Egyptian border has long served Palestinians as a supply line for everything from livestock and construction materials to stocks of medicine and smuggled electronics equipment. But now, as war rages in the area, the tunnels have become the main route for providing the Hamas terror group with the weapons it needs to fight against Israel.

Dismantling the tunnels in Gaza is a key to winning the war for Israel, which has sworn to eradicate them. But military experts and historians say destroying them will be virtually impossible.

The tunnel system is strikingly similar to the Viet Cong’s infamous Cu Chi tunnels during the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong moved weapons and supplies through their tunnels, and, like Hamas, they hid their top leaders in them as well.

The Viet Cong — a technological underdog to the United States — was able to bridge the firepower gap against a world superpower through sheer cunning and ingenuity. The Cu Chi tunnels were a vast network of underground sleeping quarters, weapon storage facilities, war rooms and fighting positions. Guerrillas dug out makeshift medical facilities beneath the earth, and doctors tended to wounded soldiers in them, often using electricity generated by a bicycle.

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Hamas in the eyes of an expert

Khaled Hroub, author of several books on Hamas, including Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide, talks to Al Jazeera about the organisation’s social and political strengths and explains why he believes Hamas is looking forward to an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera: Two senior Hamas leaders were recently killed in Israeli air strikes. How will this impact the organisation’s leadership?

Khaled Hroub: Hamas’ leaders are very used to hiding and escaping Israeli attacks. I can’t see this affecting Hamas much. Israel succeeded in assassinating very senior Hamas leaders including Sheikh [Ahmed] Yasin himself, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, then followed by Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi who was the main figure in the Gaza Strip.

And yet Hamas continued to rise and succeeded in winning the elections. So I can’t see Hamas being weakened by killing one or two or three or even more leaders in the Gaza Strip.

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The Other Israel (Teaser)

Palestinians Face Home Demolitions Spree by Israel

By JONATHAN COOK

In the first hours of dawn, Nader Elayan was woken by a call from a neighbor warning him to hurry to the house he had almost finished building. By the time he arrived, it was too late: a bulldozer was tearing down the walls. More than 100 Israeli security guards held back local residents.

The demolition, carried out four years ago, has left Mr Elayan, his wife, Fidaa, who is now pregnant, and their two young children with nowhere to live but a single room in his brother’s cramped home. It is the only land he owns and he had invested all his savings in building the now destroyed house.

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Man convicted of spying for Hezbollah released

IDF faces ‘Palestinian Equalizer’ from Gaza

Air force combat helicopters flying over Gaza “will have to take a new threat into account,” an IDC security analyst said Saturday, following the discovery of 30 anti-aircraft missiles by Egyptian police in Sinai, said to be destined for the Gaza Strip.

The arms cache, uncovered 80 km. south of the Rafah border crossing, also included hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rifles, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, Egyptian authorities said.

Hours later, Egyptian police announced a second seizure, this time finding 100 kg. of explosives just 3.5 km. from Gaza.

“There’s no doubt that the appearance of these weapons represents a very significant change,” said Yoram Schweitzer, director of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

“Air force helicopters fly low over Gaza, and if they are downed the significance of that would be enormous. The air force has to make preparations, and take these weapons into account,” Schweitzer said.

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Israel puts freedom of expression under ‘house arrest’

Israel put seven employees of a pro-peace radio station under house arrest Wednesday, two days after police raided the station’s Jerusalem office and seized its transmission equipment, the station said.

The English-language station, RAM-FM, is headquartered in the West Bank city of Ramallah, with operations in Jerusalem. It plays Western music and tries to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through its broadcasts.

Israeli police raided RAM-FM’s Jerusalem office Monday, saying the station was broadcasting without a license. Employees detained during the raid were jailed overnight and released Tuesday.

The station said the seven were placed under house arrest Wednesday for one week and forbidden to speak to anyone but their families. For the eight days after that, they’ll be allowed to leave their homes, but won’t be able to go to work or contact other station employees, news editor Xolani Gwala said.

The Israeli communications ministry said it is common procedure to put people involved in pirate broadcasts under house arrest. It said the actions taken against RAM-FM had nothing to do with the station’s content, but with the fact that the station is operating illegally and potentially disrupting transmissions at Israel’s international airport.

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