On October 14, 2014, Hamas' mouthpiece Al-Risalah reported that the organization has resumed work on one of its attack tunnels, citing the commander of a cell specializing in tunnel excavation. The article explained that tunnels, running dozens of meters below the surface, are dug by members of Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, who work in shifts around the clock. It added that there are two kinds of tunnels: "strategic attack tunnels," intended for killing or kidnapping Israeli soldiers and carrying out "quality operations" inside Israel, and "tactical tunnels for purposes of defense," used by Hamas to conceal mortars and launchers from the eyes of the Israeli pilots. The article also explained that the particular tunnel visited by the reporter was damaged in the recent Gaza war but repaired during one of the humanitarian ceasefires. Diggers interviewed for the article declared that they are aware of the risk to their lives, but are willing to be martyred for the sake of Allah, Islam and Palestine.
It should be mentioned that Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar already admitted over one month ago that the organization had begun rebuilding the tunnels.
The following are excerpts from the Al-Risalah article:
The Excavation Of Tunnels Has Been Renewed
"The tools wielded by the Al-Qassam fighters in one of the attack tunnels seemed to be playing the song adopted by Hamas as its anthem: 'Under and over the ground, under and over the sea, they burst forth like a storm.' Like bees in a beehive, each of them took his position and set to work. The arms [of the diggers] have revealed themselves to be the most powerful tools the [Hamas] movement possesses. Their tunnels made achievements in halting the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza. They believe that, for every foot of tunnel dug, an Israeli soldier will be kidnapped or have his blood shed.
"Only with great difficulty did the Al-Risalah reporter manage to visit one of the tunnels in a certain part of Gaza, while taking strict security measures to maintain the absolute secrecy that characterizes the tunnel [enterprise] of the resistance.
"As soon as the sun rose over Gaza the Steadfast, the members of the Al-Qassam cell met at the entrance of the tunnel shaft and prepared to descend into it and start their work. But before doing that, according to their well-known schedule, they prayed and asked Allah to give them success in the present round [of preparations].
"To save time, the cell commander, Abu Khaled, allowed the Al-Risalah reporter to talk with them briefly before they descended into the bowels of the earth to start their work, saying: 'We need every minute we have. Before us is a difficult job that requires the effort of all, as well as patience...' He also told Al-Risalah: 'Dozens of meters underground, conditions are different than they are above ground. The work is never-ending.' He added that, wherever you look, you see people digging into the rock with tools that seem simple considering the magnitude of the achievement that will surely be achieved.
"One of the cell members, a man in his 20s to judge by his face, told Al-Risalah: 'I thank Allah for giving us the privilege of becoming soldiers in the tunnel-building [enterprise]. True, the work is hard, but when we remember the reward we will reap from Allah, the hardship becomes easier to bear.'"
A Network Of Strategic Attack Tunnels And Tactical Defense Tunnels
"Abu Khaled told us the history of this tunnel: 'Work on it began several years ago, and every day it becomes more ready for the all the military tasks in which the Al-Qassam Brigades specialize.' Occasionally work is suspended for security reasons.
"Over the last eight years, the Al-Qassam Brigades have constructed a network of tunnels of several kinds. Some of them are strategic attack tunnels and others are tactical tunnels for purposes of defense. All of them serve the purpose of operating far from the eyes of the Israeli pilots and delivering painful blows to the occupation.
"This tunnel has a story to tell about the latest war. Abu Khaled described vast achievements... Al-Qassam fighters burst out of it, attacked the occupation forces that had invaded the eastern parts [of Gaza], and caused them tangible and painful losses...
"The Al-Qassam Brigades use the tunnels for several military missions, such as: firing rockets on Israeli cities; firing massive barrages of hundreds of mortars on the settlements around the Gaza Strip, and carrying out quality operations behind enemy lines that have resulted in the killing and capture of soldiers and terrorized millions of Israelis...
"Another soldier in the Al-Qassam Brigades cell said: 'We have difficulty breathing due to the length [of the tunnels] we dig, but we have gotten used to it.'
"Despite their earnestness and the difficulty of their work, evidenced by the fighters' palms and arms, we heard several jokes during the cell members' conversation with Al-Risalah. One of them said: 'We work in the spirit of mutual fellowship, and we tell jokes during work to put a smile on our faces, which could be our last.'
"The members of this unit, who specialize in digging tunnels, work 24 hours a day in shifts, laboring continuously in order to maximize efficiency in minimum time..."
Al-Qassam Men Prepared To Sacrifice Their Lives In The Tunnels
"The Al-Qassam men explained: 'We sacrifice our lives for the religion and for Palestine, and they are dedicated to Allah. [We] give our lives for Him. It is a great honor to be martyred during preparations [for battle]. Whatever Allah decides will happen.'
"Abu Khaled did not hide the fact that the tunnel was bombed during the recent aggression against Gaza, after spy drones followed a cell of [Al-Qassam] Brigades fighters as it set out to attack an Israeli infantry unit, but this did not affect the activity in the tunnel. It was repaired during one of the humanitarian ceasefires during the war. He introduced us to one of the tunnel workers who was among the fighters [that participated] in the ground battle, and [the latter] said: 'We stayed in this tunnel for 12 days and wrote the following expression on its walls: 'To be martyrs under the ground, that is our wish, or else to be strong above ground, and that Allah decree that victory is ours.'
"When Abu Khaled was done talking, the sound of digging tools grew louder, signaling the start of a new round of the intense work, which hasn't stopped since the war ended..."
We Are Ready For A New Round Of Fighting
"Abu Khaled ended the conversation with a message for the occupation: 'Our weapons, rockets, and tunnels are in good shape, and so are we. If you return here, we will [be ready for you]. Israel claims to have destroyed most of the resistance's tunnels, but what has been said proves that they are in good shape and set to hurt the occupation once again, even though a small number of them were bombed in the recent war against Gaza."