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Are there Hamas tunnels under the hospitals in Gaza?

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Hamas tunnel found under Shifa hospital

 

Hamas tunnel found under Shifa hospital. Credit: ABC-CBN News.

The conflict in the Middle East is marked by complex strategies and tactics, none more controversial than the alleged use of tunnels by Hamas beneath key infrastructure in Gaza. This article delves into the danger, which is held by these tunnels, focusing particularly on their presence under hospitals in Gaza.

Background on Hamas Tunnels

Hamas, a globally recognized terrorist organization, has invested heavily in creating a network of tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip. These underground structures serve multiple purposes: they act as weapons caches, command centers, bunkers, and concealed transportation arteries for terrorists and weaponry, including rocket launchers​​. Recently, according to the testimony of the returned hostages, it turned out that these tunnels were also used to capture the October 7th, 2023 hostages. This network, often described as an underground city, is not just a military asset but also a symbol of Hamas control over the Gaza territory.

Hamas Tunnels Under Hospitals: A Strategic Choice

Hamas tunnel found by IDF under a hospital

Hamas tunnel found by IDF under a hospital. Credit: ‘London Evening Standard’ FB page.

One of the most alarming aspects of these tunnels is their reported locations under critical civilian infrastructure, including hospitals. The IDF has released footage showing the expansive tunnel network under the Al Shifa Hospital complex, Gaza’s primary medical center. These tunnels are not rudimentary; they feature well-appointed spaces, complete with air-conditioning and bathrooms​​​​. This strategic placement raises severe ethical and humanitarian concerns, as it puts civilian lives at risk and complicates military operations aimed at neutralizing these threats.

IDF’s Findings and Operational Challenges

The IDF and its special forces have been actively working to uncover and dismantle this tunnel network. Their findings indicate that the tunnels extend from under the central building to other parts of the hospital complex. The discovery of these tunnels has been a significant point of contention, as it demonstrates Hamas’ method of operating underneath hospitals, exploiting them for military purposes​​​​.

The Cost of Building the Tunnels

Building such an extensive network comes at a substantial cost. Hamas has diverted resources, including construction materials meant for civilian projects, to expand this underground network. Since January 2014, thousands of trucks carrying essential construction materials like gravel, iron, and cement have entered Gaza. These materials, intended for building houses, schools, and hospitals, have instead been co-opted for constructing these tunnels​​. This diversion of resources came at the expense of humanitarian needs and could have been used to build dozens of clinics and schools as well as houses over the years.

Conclusion: The Perilous Intersection of Tunnels and Civilian Life

The presence of Hamas tunnels beneath hospitals in Gaza creates a perilous scenario, not just for the residents of Gaza but also for Israel. These tunnels, serving as strategic military assets for Hamas, pose a direct threat to Israeli security. They enable quick and stealthy transport of militants and arms, potentially facilitating attacks on Israeli soil and endangering lives in communities near the Gaza border​​, just as happened in the 7th of October attack.

 

Simultaneously, the use of civilian structures like hospitals as shields for these tunnels’ places Gazan civilians in grave danger. By embedding their military infrastructure within densely populated areas, Hamas escalates the risk of civilian casualties during conflicts, as any IDF operation to neutralize these threats inevitably becomes intertwined with civilias​​. This tactic not only endangers lives but also gravely violates international laws and norms regarding the protection of civilians in conflict zones.

 

Furthermore, the immense resources diverted towards tunnel construction highlights a tragic misallocation in Gaza. While significant funds and materials are poured into expanding this underground network, essential civilian needs, such as housing, healthcare, and education, remain woefully unaddressed. This diversion of resources underscores the heavy cost that Gazan civilians pay, as potential improvements to their quality of life are overshadowed by the prioritization of military objectives over civilian welfare.

 

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Why is Lebanon against Israel?

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Hezbollah soldiers in Lebanon. Credit: CBN Israel FB page.

 

Hezbollah soldiers in Lebanon. Credit: CBN Israel FB page.

Recent events have seen a marked escalation in hostilities along the volatile Israel-Lebanon border, raising concerns about the potential for a broader regional conflict. This escalation thst had led Israel to evacuate communities near Lebanon border and poses significant risks, not just for the immediate area but for the stability of the Middle East at large. As tensions soar, understanding the intricate dynamics of this situation is crucial. We invite our readers to delve deeper into this complex issue.

Background of the Israel-Lebanon Conflict

Israel-Lebanon relations have been tumultuous since the 1940s. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War but was the first Arab League nation to seek an armistice with Israel in 1949. For years, Lebanon’s border with Israel remained relatively calm, especially compared to other Arab League states. However, this changed drastically during the 1970s and 1980s with the Lebanese Civil War. During this period, Israel allied with major Christian Lebanese militias, leading to the May 17 Agreement in 1983 for normalizing relations. This agreement was annulled by Lebanon in early 1984 following a power takeover by Druze and Shiite militias​​​​.

Lebanon’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflicts was relatively minor until the Lebanese Civil War. In the 1975 ambush on a bus by Phalangist gunmen, killing 27 Palestinian passengers, marked the beginning of the civil war. The war’s complexities were deeply intertwined with Lebanon’s sectarian political structure, dividing Shia and Sunni Muslims and Christians. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, aligning with the Phalangist Christian militant group against the PLO and Shia militias, leading to significant civilian casualties and extensive damage to Beirut’s infrastructure​​.

Post-civil war, the 1989 Taif Agreement led to opportunities for Middle East peace talks. However, Israel’s continued entry of southern Lebanon spurred the formation of Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, leading to terror warfare against Israel. Tensions escalated further with operations such as “Operation Accountability” in 1993 and “Grapes of Wrath” in 1996. 

The situation evolved with the UN Security Council’s report in 2000 confirming Israel’s withdrawal to the Lebanese-Israeli line of separation, known as the “Blue Line.” However, disputes over the Blue Line persisted, and Hezbollah’s actions, such as taking Israeli soldiers captive in the Shebaa Farms area in 2000, continued to fuel tensions. The international border between Lebanon and Israel remains undetermined, awaiting a peace agreement​​.

This historical context provides a foundation for understanding the current dynamics of the Israel-Lebanon relationship, marked by a legacy of conflict, shifting alliances, and ongoing political and territorial disputes.

Current Situation at the Lebanon-Israel Border

Lebanon Israeli border. Credit: ‘Daily Monitor’ FB page.

Lebanon Israeli border. Credit: ‘Daily Monitor’ FB page.

The current situation at the Lebanon-Israel border is marked by heightened tensions and escalating military activities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted “widespread” strikes on Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, targeting the Hezbollah stronghold of Kafr Kila, as well as Bint Jbeil and Marwahin. These strikes were in response to Hezbollah’s rocket, missile, and drone attacks on northern Israel, including an incident where an anti-tank missile narrowly missed a vehicle in the Upper Galilee. Additionally, two explosive-laden drones launched from Lebanon hit open areas in the Mount Dov region on the Lebanon border, and another aerial target that entered Israeli airspace was downed by air defenses​​​​​​​​​​.

Since October 8,2023  Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the Lebanese border on a near-daily basis, in support of Gaza amid the ongoing war there. These skirmishes have resulted in civilian deaths and the loss of IDF soldiers. Hezbollah has reported the deaths of more than hundred of its members during these skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria.      

The IDF has stated that many of Hezbollah’s rockets fired at Israel have fallen in Lebanon. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari highlighted Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah as endangering Lebanon for the sake of Hamas and Iran, emphasizing the significant impact of Hezbollah’s actions on the stability of southern Lebanon​​.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed the commitment to restoring security along the northern border, warning of severe strikes if Hezbollah widens the fighting. Meanwhile, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, in a conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, emphasized the need to distance Hezbollah from the border and discussed the broader threat posed by the Iranian-led Axis of Terror​​.

The United States has been actively working to prevent the Gaza war from spreading, issuing warnings to Hezbollah and Iran against further escalation. Notably, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, called for the removal of armed personnel south of Lebanon’s Litani River, except for UNIFIL and the Lebanese army and state security forces. Despite this, Hezbollah has entrenched itself across much of southern Lebanon, regularly launching rockets against Israel​​.

In parallel, Hezbollah has been engaging in a calculated and coordinated strategy, often allowing other groups to launch rockets against Israel from south Lebanon, to minimize the risks of full-scale war. However, this strategy has resulted in numerous casualties among Hezbollah fighters and displacement of thousands of civilians in southern Lebanon due to fears of another war.

Lebanese Political Forces’ Stance on War with Israel

Despite Hezbollah’s significant influence in Lebanese politics, there is a clear consensus among Lebanon’s political leaders against engaging in war with Israel. Prominent politicians, including former prime ministers and party leaders, have expressed their opposition, highlighting the dire economic consequences and the threat to national sovereignty. There is a general recognition that while defending Lebanon’s interests is paramount, engaging in a war with Israel would be disastrous for the already beleaguered nation.

Summary: Assessing the Current Situation and Iran’s Regional Interests

Lebanese hezbollah supporters. Credit: Arab news FB page.

Lebanese hezbollah supporters. Credit: Arab news FB page.

The current situation along the Israel-Lebanon border is fraught with danger, underpinned by complex political, economic, and social factors. Lebanon’s vehement opposition to war with Israel stems from a keen awareness of the country’s fragile state and the catastrophic impact such a conflict would have. Meanwhile, Iran’s interest in the region, particularly its support for Hezbollah, adds another layer of complexity to this volatile situation. Iran’s potential involvement in opening another war front cannot be overlooked, as it could escalate the conflict to a regional scale, further destabilizing an already tense Middle East.

In conclusion, the situation along the Israel-Lebanon border remains tense and precarious. With Lebanon firmly against entering a war with Israel due to its internal vulnerabilities and the overwhelming consensus among its political forces, the focus now shifts to how this standoff will evolve in the context of broader regional dynamics and Iran’s strategic interests. As events continue to unfold, it is imperative to monitor this situation closely, understanding the profound implications it holds for regional stability.

 

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Does UNRWA help Hamas?

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UNRWA building in Gaza. Credit: David Ziplowitz’s FB page.

 

UNRWA building in Gaza. Credit: David Ziplowitz’s FB page.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide aid to Palestinian refugees. However, over the years, its role has come under scrutiny due to allegations of aiding Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. This concern was further fueled by instances like UNRWA staff praising Hamas’ October 7 massacres and the captivity of Israeli hostages by an UNRWA teacher​​​​. In this article we will delve deeper into understanding why these accusations against UNRWA arose, what is the essence of the relationship between this organization and Hamas and what the attacks of October 7 proved about the organization’s bonding with Hamas. 

What is UNRWA?

UNRWA supply  Credit: Capital FM Kenya’s FB page

UNRWA supply  Credit: Capital FM Kenya’s FB page

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Arab Refugees in the Middle East, was established in December 1949 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302. Its creation was a response to the crisis following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, which resulted in a large number of Arab refugees. Initially, UNRWA was intended to provide direct relief and work programs for these refugees. Over the years, UNRWA’s mandate has been repeatedly renewed, and its operations have expanded to include education, healthcare, and social services.

UNRWA’s approach to the Palestinian refugee status is unique compared to other refugee organizations. Unlike the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which focuses on resolving refugee situations, UNRWA perpetuates the status of Palestinian refugees across generations. This policy involves granting refugee status to all descendants of the original refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. As a result, the number of Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s care has expanded from 750,000 in 1950 to an estimated 5.8 million today. This expansive definition has been a critical factor in the ongoing increase in the number of Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA’s Support for Hamas

UNRWA cement bag found in Hamas tunnels. Credit: Aliya Return Center FB page.

UNRWA cement bag found in Hamas tunnels. Credit: Aliya Return Center FB page.

Recent news demonstrates UNRWA’s operations in Gaza provide direct support for Hamas. This includes employing Gazans who are active Hamas members, using UNRWA installations for terrorist activities, and transporting terrorists and weapons in UNRWA ambulances​​.

Are UNRWA and Hamas the Same?

While they are not the same organization, reports indicate deep connections between the two. Many UNRWA employees, including teachers, have expressed support for Hamas and its violent actions against Israel​​​​​​​​. Moreover, a significant number of Hamas terrorists are graduates of the UNRWA education system​​.

UNRWA’s Response to Recent Events

UNRWA’s response to the events surrounding the October 7, 2023 attacks has been a subject of considerable concern. Several UNRWA staff members, including teachers and educational personnel, were found praising the Hamas-perpetrated October 7 massacres on social media and celebrating the attacks resulted in significant civilian casualties and included brutal atrocities​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, on Israeli cities and kibbutzim. Additionally, it was reported that an UNRWA teacher in Gaza was involved in holding an Israeli hostage, further implicating the information regarding UNRWA staff involvement in activities associated with Hamas​​​​. Moreover, many of the terrorists involved in the October events were graduates of UNRWA schools, highlighting a troubling connection between the education provided by UNRWA and the radicalization of its students​​. These incidents have raised serious questions about the extent to which UNRWA can be considered a neutral and legitimate aid organization.

Conclusion: The Need for a New Aid Organization

Given UNRWA’s response to recent events and its controversial  relationship with Hamas, there is a growing call for the establishment of a new, internationally managed aid organization. This new entity would ideally be more effective and neutral, not influenced by any terrorist group or political agenda, and more in line with the original humanitarian mission intended for such agencies​​​​​​.

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Do Gaza civilians work in Israel?

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Palestinian workers crossing the border into Israel. Credit: Amiram Brutman’s FB page.

Palestinian workers crossing the border into Israel. Credit: Amiram Brutman’s FB page.

In the tumultuous landscape of the Middle East, the Gaza Strip stands out as a region of particular hardship and complexity. Among the many facets of life in Gaza, the opportunity for civilians to work in Israel has been a topic of significant discussion and controversy. This article delves into the intricate dynamics of Gazan civilians working in Israel over the past few years, exploring its impact on Gaza’s economy, and examining the broader geopolitical implications.

Gazan Workers in Israel: A Recent Overview

Palestinian construction workers in Israel. Credit: ‘Globes English’ FB page.

Palestinian construction workers in Israel. Credit: ‘Globes English’ FB page.

The history of Gazan workers working in Israel is marked by shifts in policy and circumstance. Following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel largely closed its borders to Gazan workers. However, in recent years, Israel has issued up to 15,500 work permits to Gazans, allowing them to cross into the country for employment. This shift marks a significant development, as these workers are among the first from Gaza to work officially in Israel since 2007​​.

Economic Effects on Gaza

The return of Gazan workers to Israel has had a notable, albeit limited, impact on the Gaza economy. While individuals can earn substantially more than what’s possible in Gaza, the overall effect on Gaza’s wider economy is minimal, but beneficial for the individual who will be able to fully support his family needs. With a heavily constricted economy under the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, the permits inject about $1 million a day into Gaza’s economy – a small amount given the scale of economic challenges faced by the 2.3 million population of the region​​.

Work Permits: Leverage and Lifeline

For many Gazans, these work permits are not just about employment; they represent a lifeline for better living conditions. The permits also give Israel a form of leverage over Hamas. For instance, Israel can decide to avoid giving further permits, thus affecting the individual economy of Gaza. 

Involvement on October 7t, 2023  Attack Plans

A critical aspect of the discourse around Gazan civilians working in Israel is their alleged involvement in the October 7th attack. Reports indicate that individuals with work permits in Israel gathered information about Israeli cities and settlements in the south, contributing to the planning of this brutal attack. This development highlights a darker side of the work permit system, revealing how it can potentially be exploited for purposes other than economic relief. The incident underscores the complexity of this issue, where the need for employment and economic sustenance in Gaza intersects with security concerns in Israel. It’s a stark reminder of the intricate and often tense relationship between these two, influenced by a history of conflict and the ongoing geopolitical dynamics.

Current State of Work Permits

As of now, after the October 7 attack and the ground entry into Gaza in order to capture all those who were involved in the attack, Israel decided to ban residents of Gaza from entering to work, until further notice. In general, it is safe to say that the situation with work permits for Gaza civilians remains a delicate balance. Israel often describes these permits as goodwill measures. The permits are subject to Israel’s assessment of the security situation, with increase or decrease in the number of permits often linked to the level of calm or tension in the region​​. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the granting of work permits to Gazan civilians to work in Israel is a multifaceted issue, interwoven with economic necessity, geopolitical leverage, and the pursuit to give a lifeline to Gaza’s residents. While providing a critical source of income for individual Gazan families, the permits also serve as a strategic tool in the complex relationship between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The future of these work permits and their impact on both Gaza’s economy depends on the outcomes of the current “Iron Swords” operation and the ability of the Israelis to feel safe again in their own country.

 

 

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