IDF says neutralized ‘attack tunnel’ penetrating 200 meters into Israel from Gaza
Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on Thursday uncovered and neutralized an “offensive terrorist tunnel” burrowed hundreds of meters into Israeli territory originating from the Gaza Strip, an army spokesperson said.
The tunnel, which emerged from the Khan Younis area in the central part of the Palestinian enclave, had been identified by the IDF several months ago and was carefully monitored until the green light for its destruction was given.
The total length of the passageway was 1 kilometer long and it infiltrated 200 meters into Israel territory, the IDF said. The tunnels are intended for the use of militants who can infiltrate into Israel to carry out terror attacks.
It was discovered as part of “the ongoing technological, operational and intelligence efforts to locate and neutralize terror tunnels.” Since the 2014 Gaza war, in which several were used to devastating effect by Gaza militants against Israeli troops, the military has invested far more in detecting and destroying them.
There were no indications of casualties linked to the destruction.
"The decision on the timing of the work [to neutralize the tunnel] has to do with operational considerations, as well as the fact the tunnel connects to a network of fighting tunnels inside the strip," said IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis.
It was said to have been expanded “in several places” dug from numerous digging sites; and was connected to electricity and communications networks.
"We studied and investigated the tunnel to improve our fighting capabilities facing the threat of Hamas's tunnels network inside the strip,” Manelis continued.
Since October 2017, it was the 15th tunnel neutralized by the IDF.
“Beneath the Gaza Strip lies an underground Gaza - a tunnel network equivalent to the ‘subway’” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, “unfortunately Hamas does not intend to build the world’s next public transportation service.”
“Rather, it uses underground Gaza for its abhorrent strategy to carry out lethal terror attacks against Israeli civilians,” he added.
Tweeting in response to the demolition of the tunnel, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that it “will not assist Hamas in the next campaign. He added,“every day we take another step on the way to eliminate the weapons of the tunnels.
Israel has also been building an underground wall around the Gaza Strip to stop tunnel infiltrations. Work on the massive project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, Conricus said.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system was accidentally activated triggering rocket alert sirens in Israeli communities close to the Gaza border.
The IDF later said that its Iron Dome aerial defense system “launched one interceptor following a false identification," adding that “no launches were identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory."
The false alarm came amid reports of military “security operations” along the border. The army did not immediately provide details of the nature of the activities.
It appeared however that the Israeli army's sealing off several roads near to the strip as part of the operation was related to destroying the tunnel.
Israel has fought three wars with the Islamist movement Hamas since 2008, and the group has used tunnels to carry out attacks in the past
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