GAZA - Underground Tunnels

Arno Froese

The invasion and massacre in Israel on October 7 brutally showed how Hamas has significantly improved and strengthened its tactical and strategic terror capabilities since it began to dig into and hide in the Gaza Strip decades ago. 

Three years ago, Prof. Joel Roskin published a book chapter based on his study “Underground Warfare in the Gaza Strip and the Military Complexity of Combating It.” A timely article on the same topic and with the same name is currently in the final stages of acceptance by the academic journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 

Clear records of tunneling operations extend back more than 4,000 years—Assyrian carvings show engineering units belonging to Sargon of Akkad (who reigned between 2,334 and 2,279 BCE) undermining the walls of enemy cities.

The tunnels in Gaza initially had some basic characteristics in common with other excavation sites in Israel and elsewhere in the world, such as burial caves, mines, and hiding systems. “But each tunnel system is different and uniquely related to the geological, geographic and geopolitical conditions in place,” he explained.

The fledgling phase began in 1982 following the peace agreements with Egypt and Egyptian insistence that the border dissect the town of Rafah between Gaza and Egypt. Residents dug tunnels that were used to smuggle goods and mainly to reunite families that were split between the two sections of Rafah. 

With the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Palestinian Authority—and in the absence of significant interference from Israel or Egypt and following the successful abduction of Shalit—the field of underground warfare in Gaza expanded and developed into a holistic joint guerilla-terror warfare concept.

In fact, the expensive and sophisticated underground barrier erected by Israel on its side of the 1949 armistice line several years ago did significantly prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel through the underground—but it didn’t prevent the use and expansion of the tunnels in the Strip. So, on October 7, the barrier meant to keep Hamas terrorists out actually allowed them to reach the border zone via the underground tunnels without being revealed by IDF surveillance cameras. 

It seems that until recently, popular perception of the Hamas tunnels was sometimes quite simplistic; they were treated as a passage for fighters, constituting a threatening infrastructure. But in recent years, Hamas integrated the underground system in many ways into its defensive and offensive system, built by cruelly combining military warfare, guerilla warfare and terrorism., 25 October 2023

Arno's Commentary

Based on the excerpts of the above article, it seems clear that tunnels played a major part in the 7 October 2023 murderous attack on Israel’s civilians.

When we look at tunnels in Scripture, we notice that they were dug in defense of a city. For example, the Hezekiah Tunnel in Jerusalem. Some 2,600 years ago, the Assyrians threatened the city. So, King Hezekiah had a shaft dug into the rocks leading outside of Jerusalem to a freshwater well. From the Bible, we know that this was not the decisive winning action, but the Lord Himself took care of it: “Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it” (Isaiah 37:33). The end result of this threat is recorded in verse 36: “Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

Hezekiah’s tunnel was designed to keep the citizens of Jerusalem alive. In contrast, the tunnels in Gaza have served to eradicate lives; in this case, a most brutal and abhorrent way of murdering civilians for only one reason: they were Jews.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

Read more from this author

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety