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A reading of the 'tunnel wars'

January 24, 2014 at 3:36 am

Over the last few days, the two tunnels that link the Gaza Strip with the Occupied Territories and span the length of borders, have become well known. A lot of information has been revealed about these tunnels features and the main reasons why they have been designed as such. These tunnels are facilitating two very contrasting issues.

The first is the discovery of plans and policies by the Palestinian resistance movement that reveals their current intentions. The resistance movement is currently planning a strategic plan of action that would allow them to attack the aggressive occupational forces in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian territories. They are progressing well due to their thought out approach that distances itself from the confusion currently overwhelming Palestinian political thought.

The second issue is that the Occupation has exposed the true capabilities of the Palestinian resistance and plans to stop any attempts to confront the Occupation. It has become clear that Israel’s plans to change the nature of confrontations to come and that it will revisit its strategic policies relating to security in the Gaza Strip.

The discussion on the use of tunnels by Palestinian resistance is not unprecedented. In fact, they used this tactic even prior to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. We all remember the exact sites of these tunnels; however, now the tunnels are changing from being tactical to being strategic and from being practical to being targeted. This means that the original purpose of these tunnels has altered to carry out resistance operations and taken on a more strategic purpose, dictating the movement’s confrontation of the Occupation. This change demonstrates a turning point in the resistance’s planning and a new point of concern for the Occupation, which now feels the need to establish security measures that will enable them to detect and uncover unmarked tunnels.

The last confrontation between the Occupation and the resistance along the eastern border of the Khan Younis province, demonstrated the pivotal role of the tunnels. It also became clear to the Occupation that the tunnels were a key part of Palestinian resistance strategy and therefore, endangered their soldiers. There was also a fear that the resistance movement would succeed in overpowering the Occupation and that a victory would be achieved by capturing the soldiers in potential confrontations or special operations. The Occupation can no longer view its confrontations with the Palestinian resistance as an open attack in the Gaza Strip. These changes will transform the rules of the game and it is unknown where this thinking will lead them.

Even if we have seen changes in the Palestinian resistance’s ability to confront the Occupation, we should not be overcome by exaggerated confidence or joy because the recording of a victory is not important what is important is that it counts for something. Recording victories in situations such as these can sometimes be problematic and more importantly, useless, if it does not contribute to steadfastness.

It is on this point that I would like to call the media’s attention to chart its discourse in parallel with the resistance achievements, without exaggeration and hype. Exaggeration of these efforts would undoubtedly work against the resistance initiatives. I do not intend to criticise the resistance, but all of us, especially those who post statements on social networking sites are filled with impulse and emotion. I simply wanted to remind us all of this because a reminder, after all, benefits an insightful mind.

What I would like to draw attention to in these ‘tunnel wars’ between Palestine and the Occupation is the timing and the goal. I expect that both sides at this stage of the conflict are avoiding a full and comprehensive confrontation because any collision will come at too a high costs for any side to bear. They are forced to limit their maneuvres to open spaces or potential borders in order to avoid resorting to confrontation (or ‘option zero’ as it is known militarily.) This is a common military trend in long-lasting conflicts as all sides attempt to convince the other party to stop confrontations and experimental operations to avoid a full collision with heavy consequences.

The author is a Palestinian writer. This is a translation of the Arabic text published by on 6 November, 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.