Support: June 9, 2004

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Israel is organizing a special combat engineer unit to search for and destroy terrorist tunnels and underground storage rooms. The army had earlier set up a small engineer platoon to seek out tunnels (from Egypt, under the border) in Gaza. But that unit suffered a heavy hit when its commander, a lieutenant, and four of his troops were killed last month. Their armored personnel carrier, loaded with explosives to destroy a tunnel, was ambushed. The explosives went off and killed the Israeli engineers. But before he died, lieutenant Aviv Hakani had convinced his superiors to expand his small tunnel busting unit to company size. Hakani has also noted that Palestinian terrorists were using caves and underground bunkers to store weapons and explosives, in Gaza and the West Bank. He also pointed out that the terrorists could dig tunnels under the security wall in the West Bank. 

The Israelis use a number of electronic tools to search for tunnels, and Hakanis platoon had found fifteen of them in the past year. The Israelis keep their tunnel hunting techniques secret, but there are a number of seismic (detects underground sound) instruments, and ground penetrating radars, available commercially. The main problem with these tools is that they only work in a small area, which means you have to know where to start looking. But Israeli intelligence often gets tips on where tunneling activity is taking place. The new "tunnel busters" would get a team into those areas to do a search, and then blow up any tunnels or underground facilities discovered.

 


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