ISRAEL ASTONISHED AT NUMBER OF UNDERGROUND TERRORIST TUNNELS
During the first two weeks of the Gaza conflict, Hamas landed at least two significant punches. In firing missiles at Ben Gurion Airport, Hamas convinced the Federal Aviation Authority and European air carriers to temporarily suspend flights to Israel. The fact that relatively primitive rockets falling far short of their targets are nonetheless capable of at least briefly severing an advanced Western democracy with a leading tech economy from the rest of the world is a psychological blow. But perhaps the even greater concern for Israeli officials is the revelation of Hamas’s extensive tunnel network.
Until Operation Protective Edge, it was generally assumed that Gaza’s tunnel system was simply a feeding tube for a community of 1.8 million people. With both the Egyptian and Israeli borders closed, as well as Israel’s naval blockade, goods entered Gaza mainly through the tunnels from Egypt. So did weapons, including missiles made or designed by Iran, which, as recent events have shown, are capable of reaching any site in Israel. The tunnel economy flourished under former Egyptian president and Hamas sponsor Mohamed Morsi but has suffered under his successor, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has won praise from Jerusalem for shutting down as many tunnels as he can find.
However, there is another system in Gaza as well, a network of attack tunnels that end not in Egypt but in Israel, where over the last two weeks Hamas commandos have attempted several terrorist operations. “Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that we are not under siege, we are imposing a siege,” says retired Israel Defence Force (IDF) officer Jonathan Halevi, now a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs. “What he meant was that Hamas can use tunnels as a strategic weapon. If you multiply tunnels, you can use them to send hundreds of fighters into Israel and create havoc, totally under cover. According to Hamas, the tunnels have changed the balance of power.”
Israeli officials have expressed amazement at the extent of the tunnel network. “Food, accommodations, storage, resupply,” one astonished official told reporters. “Beneath Gaza,” he explained, there’s “another terror city.” The Hamas tunnel network is evidence of a military doctrine, both a countermeasure to Israel’s air superiority and an offensive capability that threatens to take ground combat inside Israel itself, targeting villages, cities, and civilians as well as soldiers. Israel should not have been surprised by the size of Hamas’ tunnel network because they’ve seen something similar before, in the aftermath of the 2006 war with Hezbollah. Indeed it was Iran’s long arm in Lebanon that helped build Hamas’ tunnels.
“The spiritual father of Hamas’ tunnel system is Imad Mughniyeh,” says Shimon Shapira, a Hezbollah expert and senior research associate at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs. Mughniyeh, assassinated in 2008 in an operation believed to have been conducted by the Israelis, is credited with directing Hezbollah’s 2006 war. He was the head of the organization’s external operations unit and responsible for countless terrorist attacks. He also served as liaison to the top Iranian leadership as well as other Iranian allies and assets, including Hamas. “Mughniyeh sent instructors to Gaza and took Hamas members to Iran,” Shapira explains.
While Hamas and Hezbollah’s tunnel technology, equipment, and funding are mostly Iranian, the knowledge and the doctrine date back to the earliest days of the Cold War. “The North Koreans are the leading tunnel experts in the world,” says North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol. They learned as a matter of necessity. “The U.S. Air Force basically exhausted its target list after the first eight months of the Korean War,” Bechtol explains. “All the North Korean cities were turned to rubble, so they got good at building large tunnels and bunkers, some of them 10 or 11 square miles. In effect, the North Koreans moved their cities underground for three years, with hundreds of thousands of people living down there.”
“There is no better protection than the earth,” says David Maxwell, associate director of the Centre for Security Studies at Georgetown University. But Pyongyang also has an offensive doctrine. “Defectors tell us that the North Koreans built 21 tunnels under the demilitarized zone, but only 4 have been discovered,” says Maxwell, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in South Korea. “Our concern is that the North Koreans would infiltrate, sending thousands of men through the tunnels in an hour, maybe dressed in South Korean uniforms. You can’t imagine the kind of havoc that would wreak.”
Hamas has tried the same tactic, sending commando units disguised as IDF troops through two tunnels. For a short time, they fooled real Israeli soldiers in an observation post. It’s nothing new for the North Koreans to work with terrorist groups, as Bechtol explains. It started with the Polisario, the North African, and at one time Soviet-funded, terrorist group fighting the Moroccan government. “The North Koreans built them underground facilities, command and control, hospitals,” says Bechtol. “All of it was supported by Soviets, but that changed with the end of the Cold War, when the North Koreans offered their services on a cash and carry basis only.”
Their top customer is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The North Koreans, Bechtol says, have helped build some of the Iranians’ underground nuclear weapons facilities, as well as Hezbollah’s underground network. “They built it in 2003-04, coming into Lebanon disguised as houseboys serving the Iranians. Maybe nobody asked, hey, how come these houseboys are speaking Korean?” The significance of the tunnels became clear in the 2006 war, as Bechtol explains. “It lowered Hezbollah’s casualty rate. The Israelis wondered why the air force was not inflicting more damage and it was because of those tunnels. It was the first time Hezbollah was ever truly protected.”
A U.S. federal judge recently ruled that North Korea and Iran were liable for providing support to Hezbollah during the 2006 war. According to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, North Korea and Iran assisted “in building a massive network of underground military installations, tunnels, bunkers, depots and storage facilities in southern Lebanon.” Lamberth noted that one Hezbollah commander who received training in North Korea was Mustafa Badreddine, Mughniyeh’s cousin. And as with North Korea, Hezbollah’s heavily reinforced underground network has also given rise to an offensive doctrine-to invade northern Israel.
“Hassan Nasrallah says Hezbollah has a two-part operational plan,” says Shimon Shapira. “One is rocket fire on Tel Aviv and two is conquest of the Galilee. I wondered what he meant by that-how is Hezbollah going to invade the Galilee, take hostages, capture villages, and overrun military installations? But we’re learning from what is happening now. Nasrallah means Hezbollah is going to penetrate Israel through tunnels.” The difference between Hamas’ underground network and Hezbollah’s, explain experts, is the topography. It’s easier to dig tunnels in the Gaza sand than in the rocky and rich soil of the Galilee. The catch is that the latter are also harder to destroy since they are further fortified by nature.
Several Israeli journalists are reporting that “the fiasco of the tunnels,” as Yossi Melman calls it, might have been avoided. Either military and security officials were aware of the extent of Hamas’ network and didn’t do enough about it, or they ran up against bureaucratic roadblocks. Whether the IDF needs to detail a specific unit to monitor and uproot the tunnels that cross into Israel on its southern and northern borders, one fact is plain: For decades Israel’s traditional military doctrine has been to fight its enemies on the other side of the wire. However, its enemies’ new North Korean-inspired doctrine is to go under the wire. If Israel doesn’t deal with Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s tunnels, the next war may well be inside Israel itself.
NATANYAHU APPEALS TO THE WEST: WILL YOU DEFEND DEMOCRACY OR TERRORISM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed yesterday on American Fox News, German ZDF and French CANAL + iTele. The following are excerpts from those interviews. Prime Minister Netanyahu told Fox News: “What you have right now is this terrific conflagration in the Middle East. You have ISIS taking swaths of Iraq and Syria. It’s now pushing into, right close to Lebanon and perhaps into Jordan. That’s very, very dangerous and ISIS is basically a sister movement of al-Qaeda. You have Hezbollah, radical Shiites fighting radical Sunnis; you have Hamas; and you have in Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and in North Africa a plethora of Islamist terrorist groups.
They fight among themselves, but they all agree that once they destroy and vanquish the Muslim moderates who don’t share their views, they behead and do horrible things to them. And then they have to get to Israel, but we’re the small satan. For all of them, America is the great satan. The radical Shiites are backed by Iran. The radical Sunnis have various backers, and these people fight among themselves as to who’ll be the king of the hill. One thing they do agree on, it’s going to be an Islamist hill. It’s going to be a world dominated by their unforgiving creed, their violent ideology which rejects modernity, human rights, puts women as chattel, all subjugates or eliminates all minorities.
It is a terrible worldview with competing sects who want to enforce it on the rest of humanity who will be left alive. Now, this is the danger: that you have 21st century weapons with early medieval doctrines here, wedded together. And this is a great danger for the world. Israel is on the front line facing this terrible force and should be given support and who is the world supporting? Is it supporting Hamas, a terrorist tyranny of the worst kind, that is cruel not only to us, but to its own people? Or is it supporting this vibrant, beleaguered democracy, Israel, that is trying to legitimately defend itself? And I think everybody should ask themselves that question, because by supporting Israel, you’re supporting the West as a whole.”
He told German viewers: “Hamas is part of a movement, an Islamist movement that wants to reconstruct an Islamic dominion without human rights, without plurality, women as chattel, no rights for minorities, for gays, you name it. They either don’t exist or they should be executed. This kind of unforgiving creed has anti-Semitism as part of its horrible doctrine. And that, when we see that spreading in parts of Europe, we’re grateful when we see strong leaders like Angela Merkel, and some others in Europe, stand up forcefully against this anti-Semitism… we need support for Israel, but also the fight against anti-Semitism, and the liberal values that we all share. Support for the liberal values that we all share.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu told French television: “It’s not Israel’s battle. It’s your battle. It’s the battle of France, because it’s the same battle. If they succeed here, if Israel’s the one that’s blamed here and not the terrorists, if we don’t stand together, then this terror plague will come to you. It’s just a question of time. It will come to you, it will come to France.”
MIRACLE CONFIRMED – GOD DIVERTED MISSILE ISRAEL COULDN’T HIT
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has been wildly successful during the current Gaza war, but on occasions does miss incoming terrorist rockets. One would think that the 10% of Hamas rockets predicted by Iron Dome’s radars to hit populated areas that are not intercepted would still cause significant Israeli casualties. But somehow, they don’t. “We do aim our rockets, but their God changes their path in mid-air,” a Hamas commander was said to have told someone who wondered why Gaza-based militants can’t seem to hit their targets. Whether or not that report is true, an Iron Dome operator whose battery failed three times to down an incoming missile headed toward Tel Aviv, said the overall assessment is accurate.
An Iron Dome battery commander recalled a recent incident: “A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated its trajectory. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or a central Tel Aviv railway station. Hundreds could have died. “We fired the first interceptor. It missed. Second interceptor. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.
“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that…sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!’ “I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.” Also last week, Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Infantry Brigade, described a mysterious fog that favourably covered him and his troops as they advanced on an enemy position in morning light, after their night-time raid was postponed. Col. Winter labelled the covering as “clouds of glory.”
JEWISH PRAYER FOCUS 2014 – SEPTEMBER 24 – OCTOBER 15
In Genesis 1:14 God created the sun, moon and stars not only to give us day and night but also that they would be prophetic signs. God said, “Let there be lights in the. heavens. for signs and for seasons and for days and years”. The word here for seasons is ‘Mo’ed’ – the same word used in Leviticus 23 for the pilgrim festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles! The prophetic signs (blood moons) are currently coinciding with the prophetic seasons (Biblical feast days), four times in two years, so we need to be aware of what God is saying through His heavenly signs. Red-blood moons are a biblical sign of the end-times and the coming of the Lord (See Joel 2:30-32, Matt 24:29-31, Lk 21:25-28). You can learn about these, as well as the upcoming Biblical holidays and many Messianic congregations and ministries in this year’s Jewish Prayer Focus. The theme for this year is, “Look Up! Your Redemption Draws Near” (Lk 21:28).
The Jewish Prayer Focus is a 22-day call to prayer from September 24 till October 15) for a harvest of souls amongst the Jewish people group, at the time of year when they are soul-searching and repenting in accordance with the Holy Days of the Biblical calendar in Lev 23:26-44. These include the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles, which all foreshadow the return of the Messiah. There are 16 new Messianic Jewish leaders from Israel and the diaspora, who share their testimonies with us, introduce us to their ministries/congregations or provide insightful teaching and daily prayer points.
Each year the dates, articles and writers differ. The project is endorsed by Lawrence Hirsch (President of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Australia and John Dawson (President, YWAM), Rob Stearns (International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem) and Tom Hess from the House of Prayer for all Nations in Jerusalem. All our profits are returned to those for whom we are praying. Join us and learn the GOOD news from Israel. This year, there is also a Chinese translation available.
Copies available from JPF, PO Box 54, Kerrimuir VIC 3129, email@example.com or call 03-9899 7231. Cost: Aud $8.50 for one copy, $16 for 2, $22.50 for 3, $75 for 10, $120 for 20,incl local postage.