The Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) accused Hamas Tuesday of diverting construction materials intended for Gaza rebuilding projects to enable the building of the terror network’s attack tunnel infrastructure in the conflict-ridden territory.
In an interview with the Palestinian Ma’an news agency -- the largest independent TV, radio and online news source in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- Major General Yoav Mordechai of the IDF accused Hamas of misappropriating wood, cement and other materials for its terror activities.
“Members of Hamas seized construction materials from a depository by force and took them to support Hamas infrastructure,” Mordechai told Ma’an.
Mordechai added that Israel has facilitated the delivery of 1.7 million tons of construction material for the rebuilding process, Ma’an reports.
The high-ranking officer also denied overtures that suggested Israel is engaging in diplomatic talks with Hamas.
“Israel only has relations with the Palestinian Authority and does not have any connection with any other Palestinian party,” Mordechai said.
Hamas is reportedly suffering from a shortage of basic tunnel-building supplies, such as wood, which is put in place to line the inside of the tunnels, according to the Times of Israel.
The operation to seize the materials, which, as the Times of Israel reports, was not the first of its kind, reportedly took place Monday night and involved members of the organization’s military wing raiding carpentry shops and woodworking factories throughout the Gaza strip.
Hamas, led by political chief Khaled Mashal, is alleged to be engaging in attempts to shore up its attack tunnel building efforts following the devastation caused by IDF activity during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
The IDF claims that 32 of Hamas’ tunnels were destroyed by Israeli forces during the conflict, which took place between July 8 and August 6, 2014.
In an effort to illustrate to the so-called “tunnel threat”, the IDF released the video below at the height of the conflict on July 27, 2014, with the following description:
“Heavily armed terrorists climbed out of a tunnel near the Israeli community of Sufa, a few kilometers from the Gaza border. Four days later, terrorists wearing full IDF uniforms infiltrated Israel through a different tunnel. IDF forces killed the terrorists and discovered that they were wearing suicide vests. Their goal was to massacre Israeli civilians.”
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