Tunnels were used by the British Army during World War I, the Vietcong in Vietnam, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and even the rebels during the current conflict in Syria, tunnels have not been seen as a key strategic threat in decades – until they formed the Israeli government’s main justification for Operation Protective Edge this July.
Tunnels have been used as a tactic of war since ancient times, but, unlike other military means and methods which are regulated by international law, tunnels as such are not addressed in the law governing war. Some would interpret this silence as indicating that tunnel warfare does not raise any unique legal issues. Dealing with tunnels, they might argue, does not significantly differ, from a legal perspective, from waging war in urban areas. But it does.
First published in Times of Israel