Iranian military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri stated that Hamas has constructed more than 400 kilometers of subterranean tunnels in northern Gaza. He also issued a warning to Israel, cautioning them about the possibility of a “humiliating defeat” if they were to launch a ground offensive.
“In the northern section of Gaza, what the [Palestinian] fighters report is that they have built more than 400 kilometers of tunnels. Vehicles and motorcycles can pass through some of them,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
He added that “the tunnels have an entrance in the Gaza Strip, while their other end is behind the barriers and [Israeli] forces.”
Baqeri claimed that the Israeli army was postponing its ground invasion of Gaza “because they are mindful that such an operation will mark another defeat,” stressing that “Palestinian combatants are prepared for an Israeli ground attack.”
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Monday more Israeli troops have entered the Gaza Strip over the past few days, as the military expands its ground operation.
“Overnight, troops eliminated dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in the buildings and tried to attack the forces that were moving in their direction,” Hagari said, adding that the fighting is ongoing, according to the Times of Israel.
Hagari added: “We are carrying out an expanded ground operation into the Strip… forces are moving toward the terrorists, the terrorists are barricading themselves in staging grounds, and we are attacking them from the air.”
“Hamas has spent two decades building the labyrinth of deep, defensive tunnels to resist any ground assault by Israeli troops. It started building them in Gaza even before Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005. Hamas ramped up the construction after both Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the area in 2007,” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank stated earlier this month.
It added: “Gaza tunnel entrances are hidden under houses, mosques and schools, while the territory’s narrow streets and alleyways are expected to be infested with booby traps and command-detonated improvised explosive devices. It will also be difficult and dangerous for the Israel Defense Forces to clear a path through collapsed buildings and areas blocked by rubble.”