Hamas officials Thursday criticized Israel’s construction of a new security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip, which is aimed at thwarting the threat posed by the Palestinian terror group’s cross-border attack tunnels.
“This is a declaration of war. We will not allow the occupation (Israel) to carry out its plots and crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we will prevent the construction of this barrier by all means,” Hamas said.
“The entry of the occupation army’s troops and equipment into the Gaza Strip to carry out this work is tantamount to a military incursion into Gaza, and Hamas will respond accordingly. We will not sit idly by and we will respond with force the likes of which Israel has never known,” the terror group threatened.
The barrier is being built entirely in Israeli territory.
Hamas has built a sophisticated network of tunnels used to penetrate Israel to carry out terrorist attacks on civilians and soldiers and smuggle goods and weapons in and out of Gaza through the Sinai Peninsula.
During the 2014 summer war, Hamas used tunnels to attack Israeli targets. Israel destroyed over 30 tunnels during the fighting and has identified the tunnels as a strategic threat. Hamas has since been working vigorously to rebuild the network which they use for military build-up, many times at the expense of innocent Gazans from whom they steal building materials.
Israel began constructing a $530-million, 37-mile underground barrier along its border with Gaza in September to prevent more Hamas tunnels from breaching Israeli territory. IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot described the barrier as “the largest project” ever undertaken in Israel’s military history.”
IDF Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told reporters Wednesday that the situation in Gaza “is stable, but volatile….If Hamas chooses to go to war over the barrier, it will be a worthy reason [for Israel] to go to war. But the barrier will be built.”
Zamir said the barrier was expected to be completed within two years.