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After Back-to-Back Deaths in Gaza Tunnels Israeli Defense Minister Offers Infrastructure Instead

In a stark reminder of the continued presence of an unknown number of tunnels being built by Hamas beneath the Gaza Strip and in some cases into Israeli territory, two Hamas operatives were killed in two separate incidents of tunnels collapsing in the past seventy-two hours. One of the deaths was referred to as an operative “on a mission” in a statement released by the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassem Brigades, the fighting arm of Hamas. One collapse followed the firing of a missile from Gaza into Israeli territory and retaliation by Israeli air force jets bombing Hamas targets. The tunnels are used for smuggling goods, but also as strategic platforms for attacks against Israel. The terrorist organization also fired a long-range missile into the sea on Monday in what was believed to be a test of the weapon. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman continued his policy of bypassing Palestinian officials and speaking directly to the Palestinian people when he gave an interview to Al-Quds, the largest Palestinian newspaper. He told the newspaper’s readership that if Israel is drawn into another round of fighting with Hamas it will be the last because “we will completely destroy them.” He also promised that if the violence ends, Israel will lead the investment in new infrastructure including a seaport, airport and industrial zone. Lieberman said, “But I want to be clear: if [the Palestinians] make the decision to stop digging tunnels, smuggling arms and firing rockets at us, we will be the first investors in the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip. We will be the first to invest in a maritime trading port, an airport and an industrial zone. Gaza could one day be the new Hong Kong or Singapore. Hamas invests more than [$26 million] in military infrastructure instead of in health and education.”