Last week’s discovery of an intricate mile-and-a-half-long tunnel beneath the Israeli-Gaza border was the latest in a flurry of portentous developments as peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians officials are rumored to be at an impasse. Over the weekend, the cards were all put on the table. First, Hamas claimed responsibility for the tunnels in typically histrionic language.
“This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of (Izzadine) al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers,” the group’s spokesman Abu Obeida told Hamas’s al-Aqsa radio.
The tunnel wasn’t just built by Hamas hands though, it was reinforced by concrete, a construction material that had been banned during the strictest point in the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Eventually, under international pressure, Israel let concrete back into Gaza and here we are.
To make its point, the IDF actually phoned residents of Gaza, who are suffering under Hamas isolation, to remind them that Hamas had used money and resources to build a sophisticated tunnel into Israel rather than provide direly-needed services. How sophisticated was the tunnel? Ask U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
“Even though I have seen the photos of the tunnel in the [news]papers, the truth is I was shocked by what I saw,” Shapiro said.
Upping the ante, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also sought to rally all Palestinian factions to ignore the peace negotiations in favor of “armed resistance.” He hinted that this resistance would be the Third Intifada that’s been bandied about for a few years now. Over the weekend, Former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said it’s not such a far-fetched possibility.
“All of the conditions exist in our situation for the Palestinian masses to rise up,” Yuval Diskin told a conference at the Finance Ministry’s Budget Division. “In the West Bank, the intense tension and frustration is worsening among the Palestinians, who feel that their land is being stolen from them, that the state they strive for is getting further away, and the economy is no longer something that they can take comfort in.”