Israel Says it Destroyed ‘Longest and Deepest’ Hamas Tunnel in Gaza

Israel announced that it destroyed tunnel used by Hamas that extended from Gaza into its territories

The Israeli military announced on Sunday that it destroyed a Hamas tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory.

The tunnel crossed into Israeli territory by several meters (yards) but did not yet have an exit point, military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

Israel destroyed the tunnel — which it said connected to several others within Gaza and could have been used for attacks — by filling it with material to make it inoperative.

“We filled the tunnel with material that renders it useless for a very long period of time,” Conricus said. Explosives were not used.

“According to our early assessments, this tunnel reaches kilometers, several kilometers, into the Gaza Strip.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it was the longest and deepest Gazan tunnel discovered by Israel.

“It’s a tunnel that cost millions of dollars to dig, money that instead of going to ease the hardship of Gaza’s residents has sunk in the sand,” he said.

“Residents of Gaza: Hamas is burning your money on tunnels to nowhere.”

Hamas had no immediate comment.

The tunnel came from the area of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and was being dug in the direction of the Nahal Oz community in Israel, he said.

It was the fifth Gazan tunnel destroyed by Israel in recent months, Conricus said. Israel destroyed it over the course of the weekend.

The operation comes after protests along the Gaza border since March 30 that have led to clashes in which Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others.

Israel alleges Hamas is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence and said the tunnel destroyed could have been used for that purpose, saying it comes from near an area where demonstrators have gathered.

Israel has faced criticism over its use of live fire along the Gaza border since March 30, while the European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation.

The military says its soldiers act to stop attacks, damage to the fence and infiltration bids, and says there have been attempts at all three.

Conricus added that Israel had been monitoring the construction of the tunnel for some time.

He revealed that Hamas began building the tunnel following the 2014 war.

Israel has placed a high priority on halting the tunnel threat since Hamas infiltrated Israel during the war. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations caught Israel off guard, with one attack killing five soldiers, and terrified the local population.

Israel is erecting a subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels. Israel says the barrier, as well as new technological innovations, have rendered the Hamas tunnel project futile.

(Source / 15.04.2018)

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