DEBKAfile Exclusive: Hamas recycles Gush Katif rubble to fortify 50 sq. km of war bunkers on Gaza Strip-Egyptian border
March 5, 2007, 11:24 AM (GMT+02:00)
Beneath the Rafah-Philadelphi border region between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai, the Palestinian Hamas has built a vast underground stronghold. A separate series of secret tunnels snakes under another Gaza border into western Israel.
Senior Israeli military sources describe the Rafah-Philadelphi warren as spreading over 50 sq. km. It consists of a net of multipurpose, well-furnished tunnels, designed by Syrian and Hizballah army engineers for combat against tanks and armored infantry and equipped with thousands of the latest anti-tank missiles. It takes Hamas two and a half weeks to excavate one kilometer under ground.
"They should never have been allowed to build this fortress. We should have stopped it long ago," said one high officer.
DEBKAfile 's military sources disclose that Israel's heads of government and military knew what was going on, but did not raise a finger to stop the construction of Hamas' buried stronghold. Neither did any responsible official or officer question Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to abstain from military action to knock it out before its completion.
Rather than feeding the Palestinian population, Hamas is sinking every incoming cent in its war preparations.
"We are no longer looking at dirt trenches that cave in but military bunkers in every sense, modeled on the ones used by Hizballah in southern Lebanon last summer. Destroying this monster facility or putting it out of action at this point will mean heavy casualties."
Composed of narrow subterranean tunnels that link the broader passages connecting Gaza and Sinai, the Hamas facility provides passage for troop reinforcements and ordnance supplies. Their walls are made of reinforced concrete that can withstand shelling and bombs. Ceilings and walls are lined with concrete debris taken from the ruins of Gush Katif, the Israeli community whose homes the Israeli army tore down during the pullback from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Hundreds of laborers employed by Hamas have hauled 30,000 blocks and chunks of concrete from the rubble of Ganei Tal for lining the walls of their bunkers. The Hamas fortress has installed the water pipe system of Netzarim and Netzer Sereni.