Israel’s underground wall around Gaza will change nothing
Cranes and other machinery are seen on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza Strip, on September 8, 2016 (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
Late last week, Israel began a project that will extend Gaza’s border wall deep underground.
The $530 million undertaking--which is apparently the biggest military project in Israel’s history--is intended to block Hamas from tunneling under the barrier that separates Gaza from Israel.
Hamas has successfully used tunnels in the past to attack southern Israel. In 2014, during the Israel-Gaza war, Hamas fighters dressed in Israeli army uniforms tunneled under the border and attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing two soldiers.
The same day, in a separate operation, the Israeli military discovered Hamas tunneling under the wall with handcuffs and tranquilizers, evidently in an attempt to kidnap Israelis.
In 2006, Hamas used relatively-sophisticated underground tunnels to kidnap Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier that it held for over five years and used as a bargaining chip to win the release of over 1,000 Palestinian and Israeli-Arab prisoners.
It’s clear that Israel feels the need to defend itself from tunnel attacks from Gaza. But building a deep underground wall on the Gaza border is merely kicking the can down the road.
As long as Gaza’s 1.8 million people continue to suffer as they are, essentially living in an open-air prison, they’ll find ever more ingenious ways to attack Israel. If the wall extends 100 feet underground, they’ll dig 200 feet.
Even if it can protect itself completely from Hamas violence, Israel's treatment of Gaza will continue to inspire Muslims around the world to attack Israel and its allies. As the success of Daesh propaganda has shown, all that militant groups need to recruit new fighters is the Internet and a strong narrative.
Israel’s strategy for dealing with Palestinians in Gaza seems to be, ‘Let’s trap them in Gaza and prevent them from hurting Israel, so we can forget about them.’
What Israel may not realize is that its Gaza problem is not going away. The Strip’s population is growing rapidly, while unemployment is rising and the territory’s scant resources, like water, are quickly running out.
In short, the situation is a ticking time bomb, and Israel would do best to confront the problem rather than continuing to ignore it.
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