Tags: israel | hamas | tunnel | kidnap | gaza

Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis

Image: Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis An Israeli soldier stands at the exit of a tunnel discovered near the Israel-Gaza border on Oct. 13.

Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 03:40 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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A Hamas official has indirectly acknowledged his organization’s responsibility for digging a sophisticated tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border, saying it was built to facilitate the transfer of a kidnapped Israeli into Gaza and to help free Palestinian militant prisoners, The Times of Israel reported.
 
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, indicated in a posting on his personal Facebook page that the jihadist group planned to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian militants serving prison sentences in Israel.
 
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“The tunnel which was revealed was extremely costly in terms of money, effort and blood. All of this is meaningless when it comes to freeing our heroic prisoners,” wrote Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, on his personal Facebook page.
 
After the Israel Defense Forces found the new tunnel on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, head of the IDF Southern Command, stated that had if Hamas used the tunnel to carry out a terrorist attack against Israel, the Israeli response would “leave Gaza looking very different.”
 
No explosives were found in the tunnel, leading Israeli military officials to conclude that it was dug for the purpose of kidnapping more Israelis.
 
“It would not have been possible to free hundreds of our prisoners without the Shalit tunnel,” Marzouk said, referring to the June 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 near Israel’s border with Gaza.
 
Shalit was smuggled under the fence through a tunnel dug in advance by Hamas. He was freed in an October 2011 deal between Israel and Hamas, in which Jerusalem released 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners.
 
The prisoner exchange divided terror Israeli terror victims and their families, the Jerusalem Post reported at the time.

While the Shalit family, government officials and others argued that the deal was the only way to bring a kidnapped Israeli home, many terror survivors said the prisoner releases would embolden terrorists and encourage more violence.

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