It doesn’t take a professional armchair quarterback to know Israel should have been more concerned about Hamas’s mammoth terror tunnels. With American spy satellites hundreds of miles above the Earth capable of recognizing images as small as six inches, the United States is surely aware of Hamas’s massive investment in its terror underground and substantially familiar with its layout. It’s no surprise the Biden Administration was quick to confirm Hamas command centers beneath Gaza hospitals.
Hamas devoted immense manpower and resources to building an estimated 311 miles of tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip, an area that is just 25 miles long and approximately twice the size of Washington, D.C. By comparison, the entire Washington, D.C. area subway system is just 118 miles. The machinery it took to support digging those tunnels, the large number of people that had to gather day-after-day for nearly two decades to support the work, and the extraordinary efforts required to remove and store mountains of dirt were certainly captured by U.S. spy satellites.
Typically, it takes as much as six months to build just one mile of tunnel. If Hamas’s claims are to be believed, terrorists directed at least hundreds and likely thousands of people to the task of creating a terror underground for close to two decades. While the tunnels may have initially been designed for smuggling goods and people between Gaza and Egypt, they ultimately became the world’s largest, most complex and unique subterranean terror headquarters.
Isabel Yeung, a British filmmaker and journalist, negotiated with Hamas to visit part of the tunnel network two years ago. Yeung “described the system she saw as ‘impressive, built with concrete on all sides, fortified … and seeming to stretch in all directions’”.
Building hundreds of miles of tunnel is expensive. Material costs alone can range from $100 million to as much as $1 billion per mile. That means Hamas’s sponsors provided between $31 billion and $311 billion to develop the buried terror infrastructure. At a minimum, that’s more than three times what it cost to build the entire Washington, D.C. area metro system.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most impoverished areas in the world. Per capita income is just $3,789. Based on the area’s population of approximately two million, the Hamas terror underground cost between $15,550 and $155,500 for every Gazan man, woman and child. That amounts to a minimum of four years of the entire per capita income and potentially as much as 41 years for every single person living in the Gaza Strip.
Ultimately, Hamas hijacked resources that could have been used to create prosperity for Gazan families to build a terror infrastructure that provides zero benefits to the average Gazan. Even worse, Hamas’s underground, which Israeli military planners call the “Gaza metro,” intentionally allows terrorists to fire rockets and missiles into Israel (many fall short and kill residents of Gaza) and then flee deep into their vast tunnel passages. After Hamas or their Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist partners disappear below ground, Gaza’s civilians pay the price as they face Israel’s above-ground military reprisals.
None of this is by accident. Most of it was likely paid for by Iran and Gulf states with petrodollars funded significantly by North American and European consumers. Although Hamas “taxes” the impoverished residents of Gaza, those resources alone couldn’t pay for a fraction of such an undertaking.
The entire project was developed under the watchful eyes of Israeli, American, and other Western intelligence agencies and their ever-present spy satellites, begging the question of how anyone claiming to care about the people of Gaza or the threat to Israel allowed Gaza’s resources to be hijacked for so long for a scheme that ultimately would serve only to advance the Iranian axis of evil’s ambitions to destroy Israel.
Once the war barbarically forced upon Israel on 10/7 is won, the hostages returned, and Hamas ejected from the Gaza Strip, there will be serious question to answer. Those questions may begin in Israel, but will also extend to the United States, America’s Arab allies, particularly Qatar and Egypt, and others who either directly contributed billions to the world’s largest terror underground or remained silent as it was built with such heinous objectives.
Reports claim the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon today possesses more than 150,000 missiles capable of hitting Israel. Will Israel and the West be similarly surprised when Iran pulls that trigger?