By D. Danan
Fighting between the IDF and Hamas in Gaza and along the Gaza Strip border is also affecting Israel’s northern front, with regional council heads and residents in communities expressing fear that Lebanon based terror group Hezbollah is copying a Hamas tactic and digging terror tunnels in the North.
According to Israeli news website Walla!, Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka sent a letter on Wednesday to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asking him to examine the issue as soon as the violence in the south subsides.
Malka wrote that residents “have complained of hearing noises coming from under the ground. I have heard these complaints several times, but yesterday, when I came back from a tour of the Gaza border communities, I understood.”
Malka wrote that “if this is what they did in the South, I am certain [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah is not sitting idly and giving out candy.”
It must be noted, as defense officials indeed have, that the situation on Israel’s southern Gaza border is significantly different from its northern border with Hezbollah.
The ground in the Gaza Strip and around it is a type of sandy earth that can be dug through with relative ease, and the security zone beyond the border fence is narrow. The earth in Israel’s north is much rockier and harder to break through, and the demilitarized border zone is much deeper. Nevertheless, Hezbollah operatives sometimes come right up to the fence, as they did in a 2006 attack to capture two IDF soldiers which was Israel’s casus belli for launching the Second Lebanon War.
What is similar to the situation in Gaza is the proximity of some communities to the border fence: some of the smaller communities are only a few dozen meters away from the border.
Head of the Mevo’ot Hermon Regional Council Benny Ben Muvhar echoed Malka. “There is fear of terror tunnels being dug from Lebanon into Israel. Many residents in communities near the fence claim they hear digging sounds right under their feet in their bedrooms.”
Ben Muvhar emphasized that residents have not been psychologically affected by the talk of tunnels in the current war since they started complaining of hearing sounds as long as three years ago. “I think that after the IDF completes its mission in the South its next goal should be to come here and ascertain whether the fear voiced by the residents is justified.”
The IDF found the opening of a tunnel and weapons caches during the 2006 war, just several hundred meters from one of the communities. However it was not a tunnel leading into Israel and the military has of yet not found a single terror tunnel leading from Lebanon into Israel’s territory.