Hamas ‘Terror Tunnel’ Discovered Inside Israel for First Time Since 2014

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Hamas Tunnel Discovered Inside Israel 18.4.16 Photo by IDF Spokesperson Unit.

Hamas ‘Terror Tunnel’ Discovered Inside Israel for First Time Since 2014

Written by Michael Bachner/TPS on April 18, 2016

Gaza Border (TPS) – An elaborate mile-long “terror tunnel” reaching from Gaza into Israel was discovered by the IDF last week, the Israeli army cleared for publication on Monday. This is the first Hamas tunnel from Gaza to be discovered inside Israeli territory since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, during which Hamas fighters used tunnels to sneak across the border and attack Israelis.

“An offensive terror tunnel reaching inside Israel from the southern Gaza Strip was uncovered several days ago by IDF forces, after strenuous intelligence and operational efforts,” said the IDF spokesperson unit.

“It is a terror tunnel, dug with the goal of carrying out attacks within Israel against Israeli citizens and security forces, and damaging Israeli security,” the spokesperson said, adding that the tunnel had been “neutralized in a controlled fashion.” The IDF also released videooffering a glimpse inside the tunnel.

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The 2000-meter-long and 30-meter-deep fortified tunnel was found between the Israeli communities of Kerem Shalom and Holit adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip, a mere kilometer and a half from the residents’ homes. Its precise intended endpoint remains unclear.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon commented that the discovery was “an important operational achievement and the result of extremely widespread efforts on the issue in recent years.”

“We have discovered many tunnels over the years, mostly away from the public eye,” added Ya’alon. “This is a top priority for the IDF and the security agencies. Dealing with the tunnels is very complicated, requiring determination and responsibility from those involved, and Israel is a world leader on this issue.”

“We do not expect Hamas to draw conclusions and stop its involvement in the tunnels,” he said. “It will not direct its efforts to improving life inside Gaza instead. Therefore we will continue our efforts. We do not seek confrontation, but Hamas will suffer great losses if it attempts to challenge Israel and disrupt the daily life of its citizens.”

The discovery comes after a string of setbacks for the Hamas tunnel-building enterprise, including numerous collapses that killed dozens of diggers. Hamas sees the tunnels as one of its singular accomplishments and has vowed to continue building them for the purpose of killing or kidnapping Israelis.

Residents and farmers from communities near the Gaza border noticed increased army activity over the weekend, but for the most part had continued their routines. But the new revelation is sure to unnerve their sense of calm.

“The tunnel discovery puts us in a complicated situation,” commented Alon Schuster, head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council near the Gaza border. “On the one hand, it shows there is a good reason for the high alert. On the other hand, we congratulate the security forces for their improved abilities to locate tunnels and to strengthen the protection of the communities near the border.”

Eyal Zamir, head of the IDF Southern Command, estimated that the relative calm in the region over the past year and eight months will continue.

Nonetheless, the question looming over the heads of Israelis near the border is how many more tunnels have not yet been discovered.

“For us, the important discovery is only the beginning,” Schuster said. “We demand that the barrier be completed along all the border, as fast as possible.”

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