Islamic terrorists intent on smuggling weapons into the Palestinian territories give regular cash payments to landowners in return for a place of entry or exit to the smugglers, who bring in weapons such as rockets, launchers, explosives and rifles through the Rafah area in the Gaza Strip, according to a translated copy of an interview with an expert on tunnel excavation obtained by WND.
The expert identifies himself as “Honey” in the interview posted on Islam Online.
Tunnel used by Palestinian arms smugglers. (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Affairs)
Israeli troops and tanks left the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border late Monday evening after a week-long search for arms smuggling tunnels called “Operation Rainbow,” during which 41 Palestinians were killed and two tunnels were found.
A top IDF official told WND Israel still suspects there are more tunnels and the mission in Rafah will continue as part of a broader campaign to sweep the Gaza Strip of the “terrorist infrastructure” ahead of any plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to unilaterally withdraw.
The Rafah area has been a hotbed of smuggling activity since 1982 because of the city’s economic condition and its close proximity to the Egyptian border. The smuggling industry has become one of the main sources of income in Rafah, with many residents competing over control of the lucrative industry.
In the interview, “Honey” explains the process of creating a tunnel.
Landowners provide points of entry in exchange for regular cash payments. (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Affairs)
The digger looks for secret locations on both the Egyptian and Palestinian sides, particularly inside apartment complexes or houses. A landowner agrees to provide his house for the entrance/exit of the tunnel, usually in exchange for regular cash payments.
“Hired engineers then survey the ground,” explained the digger, “which must be of a firm and not overly sandy consistency. The further the point of origin is from the Israeli border, the less chance there is of being caught.”
The expert continued:
“A pit is dug one meter wide and between 12 to 14 meters deep. Supports are placed on the sides of the pit. The pit is dug to a depth of at least 12 meters so that Israeli devices are less likely to detect the tunnels. The tunnel is constructed horizontally with a width of 40 centimeters by 40 centimeters. … Wooden planks are placed alongside the four sides of the tunnels every three meters to prevent collapse.
“Various mechanical devices are used to overcome natural obstacles like rock, including a machine that removes sand using suction. An electrical cable is hung in the tunnel to provide lighting … .
(Courtesy Israel Ministry of Affairs)
“The work is done as discreetly as possible. The sand is not removed at one time, but is placed in flour bags and transported to a remote location. …
“A lookout team is posted at the entrance to the tunnel to ensure that the work continues unimpeded. The completion of one tunnel can take anywhere from two weeks to three months or more. The last tunnel we built took us three months. The workers who help build the tunnels receive a percentage of the profits generated from smuggling weapons. …
“Between six to 12 meters are dug every day. The exit from the Palestinian side, is steep (a straight vertical shaft), while it is gradually inclined on the Egyptian side. Construction of a tunnel costs a minimum of $10,000.
“If someone is interested in smuggling weapons, he makes a coded request and the workers schedule the date for his smuggling operation.”
[The request is said to be in such demand there is often a waiting list. Israel claims small children are volunteered as smugglers by their parents.]
“The smuggler comes from the Palestinian side. Egyptian workers lower the merchandise from the entrance to the tunnel floor and depart. The Palestinian smuggler crosses to the Egyptian side of the tunnel, loads the weapons on a trolley and tows them to the Palestinian side. … The underground passages are then concealed on both sides to prevent discovery.”
Since January 2003, Israel says large amounts of various weapons have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip using the tunnels, including:
- Dozens of RPG rockets and launchers
- Hundreds of kilograms of explosives
- Hundreds of rifles, mainly AK-47 Kalashnikovs
- Tens of thousands of bullets and other ammunition
- Thousands of cartridges