(Times of Israel) Security forces discovered a “terror tunnel” inside Israeli territory coming out of the southern Gaza Strip just over a week and a half ago, the Israel Defense Forces revealed on Monday morning.
The concrete-lined tunnel has since been “neutralized,” an army spokesperson said, but would not elaborate on whether it was destroyed or merely sealed off.
Its exact location is still being under wraps by the military censor, though it does not appear that the tunnel led directly into Holit or Sufa, the Israeli communities closest to the southern Gaza Strip.
The IDF has identified the Hamas terror organization as the group behind the tunnel’s construction and maintains it was dug “in order to carry out attacks against civilians,” a spokesperson said, though he would not discuss what specific intelligence led to that finding.
It is the first such tunnel discovered inside Israeli territory since the end of the war in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. During that operation, dubbed Operation Protective Edge in Israel, at least 34 tunnels were discovered and destroyed by Israeli forces.
Following the operation, Hamas vowed to continue using tunnels and rockets to attack the Jewish state. Speaking at a rally in the Gaza Strip last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh again told residents: “Our message to the prisoners is a message inked in blood. The rifle and the tunnel are our commitment.”
In response to the discovery, Hamas claimed the tunnel was “old,” one that had been built prior to the 2014 conflict, according to Palestinian media.
The IDF, however, denied that claim, saying it was “a new tunnel that had been built recently.”
The tunnel was located approximately 100 feet (30 to 40 meters) below ground and extended “tens of meters into Israel.” It had been fortified with concrete slabs and featured electrical lines and a rail system, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
It was discovered close to the border fence, he added.
Following the 51-day conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in summer 2014, Israel invested an estimated NIS one billion (some $250 million) toward developing a detection system to locate such tunnels.
The army reportedly used such a system to discover this tunnel, though IDF officials stressed that technology was not the only aspect of the discovery operation, which also included extensive intelligence gathering and “boots on the ground.”
Source: Times of Israel