Report: Israel Underestimating Number of Hamas' Underground Tunnels

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 08:42 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Israel may be underestimating the number of tunnels Hamas has built on the Israel-Gaza border, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Steven Emerson, founder and executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, told the Post that advanced American satellite technology has been able to detect a minimum of 60 tunnels, contradicting Israeli estimates of 45 tunnels.

The U.S. satellite uses infrared heat-seeking technology to detect changes in terrain density, according to the Post.

The satellite was originally developed for monitoring Iran but has been directed to orbit over Israel and sends intelligence to the National Security Agency for analysis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the country is aware of the tunnels and the threat is not new, but Emerson speculated to the Post that Israel does not have the detection equipment comparable to America's, perhaps because of the cost.

"It is believed that the construction of the more advanced Palestinian tunnels began right after the 2012 cease-fire agreement, when Israel agreed to lift restrictions for humanitarian aid, including large quantities of steel and concrete," Emerson told the Post.

The tunnels have water, sewage, and lighting that allow for month-long stays, the Post reported.

The United States is trying to establish a truce in the current fighting between Israel and Hamas.

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