March 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

IDF Establishes New Unit to Combat Terror Tunnels in West Bank

March 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

IDF Establishes New Unit to Combat Terror Tunnels in West Bank

Latest Developments

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has assembled a special team to locate West Bank terror tunnels, Ynet reported on March 19. It includes civilian and military engineers and intelligence specialists organized under IDF Central Command. They are investigating reports by Israeli residents of digging noises in Bat Hefer, the central Israeli community that borders the West Bank, which resemble those heard near Gaza. “In the past,” an Israeli security source told Ynet, “we have already seen the use of underground facilities for concealment and storage of weapons, and we understand that terrorist organizations are trying to mimic some of the combat methods in Gaza. This issue concerns us greatly.” The IDF has discovered five shafts so far in the northern West Bank, but they do not lead to tunnels.

Expert Analysis

“Since 2022, the West Bank has presented a dangerous and volatile front for Israel. The U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority is barely in control of the territory. Iran-backed Hamas is gaining not only in strength but also in popularity among West Bankers.” Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“It should not be a surprise that terrorist groups in the West Bank are attempting to emulate the long-standing tactics of their counterparts in the Gaza Strip. Despite facing continued opposition from Israeli forces, these groups are gradually adapting and becoming more sophisticated in their operations. The evolution of West Bank terrorist groups poses a growing security threat for Israeli authorities and civilians in the West Bank.” Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Ongoing Reports of Suspected Tunnel Digging in Bat Hefer

In December, residents of Bat Hefer — separated from the West Bank city of Tulkarem by a security barrier — reported construction noises, like digging, knocking, and grinding. One Bat Hefer resident told the Israeli media outlet Kan that locals have suspected nearby tunnel digging for years. This prompted multiple investigations from Israeli authorities. The Emek Hefer Regional Council said it was concerned about terror tunnels dug in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported on December 26. Investigators located no tunnels at the time.

West Bank Terror Tunnel Shafts Uncovered in December

Two terror tunnel shafts in the West Bank were uncovered during an overnight operation in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, said the IDF on December 6. During the operation, the IDF detained 10 Palestinian terrorists and found three bomb-making labs. The IDF also confiscated illegal weapons. During the operation, clashes took place with Palestinian gunmen, injuring one IDF soldier.

West Bank Terror Tunnel Shafts Uncovered by IDF,” FDD Flash Brief

Palestinian Teen Stabs Two Israelis at West Bank Checkpoint,” FDD Flash Brief

Up to 40 Percent of Hamas Terror Tunnels in Gaza Damaged or Destroyed,” FDD Flash Brief

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