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What Israel Is Really Targeting When It Bombs Tunnels

Alex Kane Jan 8, 2010

News outlets are reporting that Israeli warplanes bombed several sites around Gaza early this morning, injuring and killing Palestinians.  The Ma’an News Agency reported that two were injured and that three people were killed, including a child and a 15 year-old boy.

The air strikes reportedly targeted tunnels alongside the Egypt-Gaza border in Rafah, as well as sites in Gaza City and Khan Younis.  Israel says that the bombings come as retaliation for rocket and mortar attacks inside Israel that have killed no one.

While reading these reports, it’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly never-ending tit-for-tat game played by Israel and armed groups inside Gaza.  What’s important to remember is that the tunnels that Israel repeatedly targets are the tunnels that continue to be the “lung” that Gaza breathes through, as vital food and medicine get transported through these tunnels.  When Israel bombs tunnels, it’s bombing the transport that sustains the life of Gazans.

When I was in Gaza, it was emphasized that every single thing around us came to Gaza by way of the tunnels.  Every can of Coke we drank, every bottle of water, and all the food we ate was only here because of those “evil” tunnels you hear about.  The same goes for Gazans.

It’s probably true when Israel says that resistance groups like Hamas and others use the tunnels to smuggle in weapons.  But it’s also true that Hamas governs Gaza, and as the government they have a responsibility to protect their citizens from aggression from the occupying power.  Since the borders around Gaza are completely sealed, the only way for Palestinians to defend themselves is by obtaining weapons through the tunnels.  Israel’s vision of a Palestinian state is a weak and feeble entity with no military, but what kind of state would that be?

Israel and Egypt, who is building an iron wall near their border with Gaza meant to curb the use of the tunnels, are putting an tight grip around the people of Gaza.  If Egypt’s wall is completed, it could have disastrous consequences for the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  These stark facts are the reason why aid convoys like Viva Palestina, who just arrived in Gaza, are so important, and why they need to continue to happen.

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