The IDF has destroyed the “longest and deepest” underground passage ever discovered. The tunnel ran from Jabalya (northern Gaza) into southern Israel near the community of Nahal Oz.

The attack tunnel reached tens of metres into Israel and was part of a more complex system of tunnels under the Gaza Strip.

According to the IDF, the tunnel had been identified years ago but it was decided to destroy it after it crossed the border with Israel violating its sovereignty.

The IDF has said it “will not allow Israeli civilians to be harmed or Israeli sovereignty to be breached and will continue operating with determination in the face of all forms of terrorism.”

The IDF noted that this terror tunnel “put the lives of hundreds of Israeli families at risk.”

The underground passage was detected using new technologies and methods that the IDF has deployed against the terror tunnel threat and was disarmed over the weekend, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

Palestinian tunnel diggers were working their way up to the surface to construct an exit within Israeli territory when the army decided to act.

The tunnel was sealed up rather than being bombed, and the sealing material was estimated to extend deep into the underground network on the Gaza side, rendering sections of connecting tunnels useless, the spokesman said.

The IDF highlighted that this tunnel shows the dubious motivations of the protests, working as a cover for infiltration attempts.

It passed under the border in an area where Palestinian protesters have recently clashed with security forces.

“The violent disturbances are a cover for terror attempts above and below ground,” said the IDF spokesman.

It was the fifth tunnel that has been destroyed in recent months.

Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman applauded this action and criticised Hamas for having spent millions of dollars from their foreign aid in constructing the tunnel.

“We open the week with an impressive intelligence and operational achievement, with the destruction of another terror tunnel, the longest and deepest discovered so far,” Liberman said.

“A tunnel in which millions of dollars were invested, money that instead of relieving the strain on residents, was buried in the sand. Residents of Gaza, Hamas is burning your money on tunnels to nowhere. We will get our hands on all of them,” said Liberman.

Similarly, the IDF condemned the irresponsible, unproductive spending, stating that “The Hamas terror organization continues to invest significant resources into its futile terror activities instead of investing in the well-being of its own people.”

The IDF vowed to “continue operating to carry out its mission of protecting Israeli civilians and Israeli sovereignty while striving to ensure a stable security situation and preparedness for a variety of scenarios.”

Hamas has been reconstructing the tunnel system that was destroyed in 2014 by Israeli forces. On that occasion, Israeli forces targeted 32 tunnels that were used to reach Israeli territory, though invaders did not manage to reach civilian areas.

Tunnels are used for storing weapons, smuggling and terrorist infiltration into Israel.

Source: Times of Israel