June 6, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Hamas uses tunnel near Gaza border to attack IDF

June 6, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Hamas uses tunnel near Gaza border to attack IDF

On the morning of June 6, Hamas terrorists used a tunnel to try to enter an area near Gaza’s border with Israel and carry out an attack. The incident was relatively small, involving approximately four Hamas members. That Hamas was able to conduct the operation in the first place after almost eight months of war illustrates how the group continues to plan and execute attacks.

The incident took place as fog had settled on the border of Gaza. This provided the terrorists some cover to exit a tunnel shaft that was within two hundred meters of the Israeli border. The men were seeking to approach an area of the border fence near the communities of Holit. This area is made up of fields in Israel that stretch along the border. It is flat terrain and the border on the Israeli side is accessed by a road that leads directly from the fence toward the community of Sufa. This is the same area attacked on October 7, one of many sites Hamas targeted. There is an IDF post at Sufa, next to a Kibbutz with the same name. Across the road and across some fields is the community of Holit. Beyond Holit is Kerem Shalom and the Egyptian border.

The IDF released details about the incident throughout the day, including video of the Hamas members walking in the fog. The initial assessment of the incident was that it began around 4:20am, about one hour before sunrise. Israel’s IDF observers detected suspicious movement and an IDF unit of the Beduin Reconnaisance Unit was sent to investigate. This unit operates along the border and knows the specific complexities of the border and the men in the unit, who mostly come from a bedouin minority community in Israel, are trained in tracking and detecting suspicious activity.

The reconnaissance unit arrived and investigated the suspicious activity. They were then fired upon around five in the morning. The terrorists had an RPG and rifles, and the IDF responded with a Hermes 450 ‘Zik’ drone and a tank. Three of the terrorists were killed and one fled. IDF Sergeant Major Zeed Mazarib was killed. He is from the community of Zarzir in northern Israel. The IDF emphasized that “the terrorists did not cross the fence built along the Gaza Strip.” The incident nevertheless illustrates that Hamas is planning these types of attacks and can still approach borders using tunnels, a cause for concern among those in Israeli communities along the border.

The terrorist cell that emerged from the tunnel is in line with many reports about how Hamas now conducts the war. It has broken down its battalions into small groups of men, usually between three and five, and they typically operate with rifles and RPGs but do not have as much access to other weapons. Hamas says these smaller groups also have access to mortars, 107mm rockets and some other types of anti-tank weapons.

Inside Gaza, Hamas and other terrorist groups continue to try to wage a low-level insurgency or war of attrition with the IDF. Hamas has rejected a ceasefire and hostage deal, despite pressure and calls from the US and other countries. According to reports on June 6, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has said Hamas will not turn over its weapons in Gaza as part of a deal.

The IDF conducted a number of sweeps of areas in Gaza. The 162nd Division in Rafah in southern Gaza located a tunnel in a child’s room, the IDF said. “The troops identified six terrorists near a school in the area of the troops. The terrorists were eliminated by a UAV and tank.” A unit of Givati infantry in Rafah also found a “weapons production workshop” along with rifles, grenades and munitions. Using a drone, the unit also also found a booby-trapped house.

In central Gaza, the IDF is carrying out raids in Deir al Balah and Bureij, two urban areas that were built over historic refugee camps founded in the 1950s. The IDF found tunnel shafts and other weapons and carried out a number of airstrikes in Gaza. One of them hit what the IDF said was a “Hamas compound embedded inside an UNRWA school in the area of Nuseirat.” The IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the strike targeted dozens of terrorists and was called off twice due to civilians being present. The IDF disputed claims that most of the victims were civilians.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power