In a January 29 Friday sermon delivered on Al-Aqsa TV, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya admitted that Hamas was digging tunnels in preparation for a military conflict with Israel. "East of the city of Gaza, there are heroes underground, digging through rocks and building tunnels," he said and added that west of Gaza, Hamas was testing missiles on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Hamas’s military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, released a video celebrating their tunnel-digging endeavors (see MEMRI TV clip 5292).
Ismail Haniya: "This weapon, the weapon of the tunnels, played a crucial role in bringing about our victory. From these tunnels, the mujahideen emerged to carry out the Nahal Oz operation. From these tunnels, the mujahideen emerged to capture (Israeli MIA soldier) Oron Shaul. These tunnels enabled the fighters to emerge behind enemy lines. Thanks to these tunnels our military spokesman said: 'The mujahideen carried out their operations, and returned safely to their bases.'
"East of the city of Gaza, there are heroes underground, digging through rocks and building tunnels. West of Gaza, there are heroes testing rockets every day. This is all in preparation - in tunnels underground, by means of missiles in the air, as well as in the sea, and everywhere. This constant preparation is for the sake of Palestine, Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa, and for the sake of the Jerusalem Intifada."
Narrator: "With the determination of heroes, the resolve of men, and the will of a people for whom nothing is impossible, the tunnels have become a strategic weapon, which was used ingeniously by the resistance in fighting the occupation, and which was used to provide a lifeline for our people, suffering under an unjust siege. The strategic importance of the tunnels stems from their impact on the battles, waged by the resistance against the occupation in recent years.
"When talking about this strategic weapon, on must mention the unknown soldiers, who continue their work day and night, in all weather and circumstances. Some of them have been martyred on this path of glory, having taken great strides on the path of resistance and liberation."