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IDF team to investigate possible Palestinian terror tunnels in Judea and Samaria

"This issue concerns us greatly," a security official said.

Israeli soldiers during a counterterror raid in Balata, outside Nablus in central Samaria, Nov. 19, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Israeli soldiers during a counterterror raid in Balata, outside Nablus in central Samaria, Nov. 19, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command, which is responsible for Judea and Samaria, has established a team to investigate alleged terror tunnels in the area.

The unit, which was established several months ago, consists of engineering and intelligence specialists, as well as civilian experts, Ynet reported on Tuesday.

“The special team acts upon intelligence needs or reports from the field and knows how to bring all the capabilities required to inspect them [the tunnels],” a security source told the site.

He added, “In the past, 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.”

One of the first instances in which the IDF encountered tunnel activity in Judea and Samaria was during the July 2023 operation in Jenin, when a deep shaft was discovered in the heart of the Samaria terror hub.

About five shafts have been uncovered in Jenin and Nur al-Shams near Tulkarm, though none led to attack tunnels, according to the report.

The IDF has looked into complaints by residents of Bat Hefer, a village east of Netanya, of tunneling sounds coming from the direction of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas near the Judea and Samaria security barrier.

In recent months, the army has also investigated possible infiltration tunnels Israeli forces discovered near Jewish communities in the Hebron Hills in Judea and Shiloh in Samaria’s Binyamin region.

Officials stressed on Tuesday that although no attack tunnels have been found thus far, the possibility cannot be ruled out in light of previous findings in northern and southern Israel.

In December, the IDF carried out a drill simulating an Oct. 7-like scenario in Judea and Samaria. The exercise drilled one of several scenarios the military is preparing for following the invasion by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, in which some 1,200 people were murdered.

Israeli officials are considering a proposal to provide security squads in a limited number of communities in Judea and Samaria with anti-tank missiles to fend off an Oct. 7-style attack, the army said earlier this year.

The plan calls for allocating missiles to civilian security units of isolated Judea and Samaria towns and other communities located close to villages controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15 alone, the Hatzalah Judea and Samaria rescue group recorded more than 2,600 terrorist attacks against Israelis in the area, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.

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