Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Israel destroys Hamas tunnel under Gaza, says it was intended for attacks

Israel destroys Hamas tunnel under Gaza, says it was intended for attacks

The army said that the tunnel, which ran for nearly a mile, extended 650 feet into Israeli territory, and was used to bring weapons into Israel for use by terrorists. Officials said they believed the tunnel may have been meant to enable a Hamas takeover of the crossing. The tunnel was destroyed by ground forces overnight, after an initial air attack demolished part of it inside Gaza.

United Nations trucks carrying building materials for projects funded by UNRWA arrive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after crossing the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing on December 10, 2013.

The Israeli military said it has destroyed three such tunnels in the past two months, but that it was not seeking escalation.

The Israeli army did not elaborate on reasons and the exact target of the airstrike.

According to the Israeli army, the tunnel passed under the Kerem Shalom border crossing, near the Egyptian border.

According to the Times of Israel, over the past year, the army has been constructing an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip that is meant to block attempts to dig into Israel.

Fishermen from Gaza have often brought in catch from Egyptian territory to sidestep restrictions imposed by Israel's naval blockade of the enclave, which Israel maintains citing security concerns. It was completely destroyed by the strike.

The military said in a statement that the tunnel extended from the Palestinian town of Rafah, staring about 900 meters from the Israeli border, and was dug below the border crossing and under pipelines used to transport natural gas and gasoline into Gaza.

"The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip", the press release added. "Hamas needs to understand that we will not allow these offensives, and that we will respond with even greater might".

On Saturday night the IDF announced it would be closing the Kerem Shalom crossing after an assessment of the current security situation, but did not provide further details. "There are people who say that the IDF attacks sand dunes - this isn't true". Erez reopened a day later, and Kerem Shalom was reopened on December 17.

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