Israel announced that it destroyed a Hamas tunnel in the Gaza Strip
The Israeli military announced on Sunday that it destroyed a tunnel dug by the Palestinian Hamas group in Gaza that was aimed at carrying out cross-border attacks.
“On the basis of quality intelligence and groundbreaking technology, Israel is destroying Hamas tunnels one-by-one,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.
The tunnel had been cut off during the 2014 Gaza war and Hamas had tried to put it back into operation, a military spokesman said. It had been dug inside the Hamas-controlled enclave several hundred meters away from Israel’s border fence.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the Israeli action a further escalation that would not achieve its goals.
The Israeli forces did not cross the border to render the tunnel inoperable but used a new technique, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters.
“We did not use explosives. It (the tunnel) was filled with a certain material, with a certain compound,” Conricus said.
He said Israel has been following Hamas’ progress for some time and that the targeted tunnels will now be impossible to rebuild. Conricus called it a “futile effort” by group and a waste of resources that could be used to aid Gaza residents.
“Hamas has invested billions in its tunnel project and now it is sinking in the sand,” Lieberman added.
“I suggest Hamas invest its money in the welfare of the people of Gaza because by the end of the year its entire tunnel project will be destroyed.”
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but still maintains tight control of its land and sea borders.
Israel has placed a high priority on halting the tunnel threat since Hamas infiltrated Israel during the 2014 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.
Since then, Israel has been working on advanced counter-measures including a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, a $1.1 billion project it aims to complete by mid-2019.
This marks the fourth such tunnel Israel has destroyed over the past four months.
Israel last went public with an operation against a Gaza tunnel in the area in January, saying that the secret passage had also run through neighboring Egypt.
(Source / 18.03.2018)