The IDF discovers and destroys the 15th Hamas attack tunnel, this one dug 200 meters into Israeli territory, and like the others, linked to a vast network within Gaza of underground passageways.
• Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: ’Everyday, we get closer to eliminating the tunnel threat.’
By Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom Staff
Cleared for publication: The Israeli military uncovered and neutralized a Hamas terror tunnel breaching Israeli territory. This is the 15th cross-border tunnel discovered and destroyed this year.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said Thursday that the tunnel, dug near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, was about a kilometer (3,300 feet) long and reached about 200 meters (660 feet) under the Israeli border.
Inside Gaza, the tunnel was linked to a vast network of underground passageways that are part of Hamas’ grid of terror tunnels.
The military said the tunnel was discovered several months ago and Engineering Corp troops carried out a series of operations Thursday to render it useless.
”This tunnel indicates progress in Hamas’ attempts to build tunnels that can circumvent Israel’s tunnel-detection technology,” the IDF’s statement said.
”We never stop working, above or below ground,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted. “The terror tunnel we destroyed this morning is another tunnel Hamas won’t be able to use in the next war. Every day, we get closer to eliminating the tunnel threat.”
Commenting on the tunnel threat in a ceremony held Wednesday in the Gaza Brigade, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said that “the campaign to locate offensive subterranean measures breaching Israeli territory, its significance and the impact it has on our troops and especially the homefront, combines operational, technological and intelligence capabilities.
”This has resulted in exceptional operational achievements on both domestic and a global scales,” he said.
Israel is currently building a 60-kilometer (37-mile) barrier some 250 meters (820 feet) from the border to counter Hamas’ grid of terror tunnels.
At 80 centimeters (31 inches) wide, the barrier has a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices to detect tunnels, while above ground there will be a fence 6 meters (20 feet) high, similar to the one which runs along the Israeli-Egyptian border. The expected cost of construction is over NIS 3 billion ($830 million).
Also on Thursday, the Iron Dome air defense system was accidentally triggered, setting off sirens across the Western Negev, the military said, stressing that no rockets had been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.
”An interceptor missile was fired from the Iron Dome system as a result of an incorrect identification,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, reiterating that all of the alert sirens that sounded in Gaza-vicinity communities were a false alarm.
Meanwhile, Gaza arson terrorism continued to escalated Wednesday as Egyptian truce efforts stall.
Seven fires were sparked in Gaza-vicinity communities by flaming kites and balloons sent over the border.
One incendiary balloon landed in an open area in the city of Gedera, 35 kilometers (21 miles) from the Gaza Strip.
Police sappers were able to neutralize it safely.
On Tuesday evening, an incendiary balloon sent from Gaza landed in the year of a residential building in Kiryat Malakhi, 27 kilometers (17 miles) from the Strip, causing no harm.
Defense officials said Thursday that the IDF was bracing for riots during Friday’s protests near the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
Launched on March 30, the Hamas-orchestrated riot campaign has escalated in recent weeks and IDF officials said that if this continues to be the case, the military would not hesitate to mount a forceful response, including imposing sanctions such as shutting down the border crossings with Gaza and limiting the fishing zone off its coast.
Also on Wednesday, U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov has renewed his efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
These efforts join Egypt’s attempts to mediate a truce, although Cairo recently said that, given Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas constant attempts to torpedo the indirect talks, it may soon cease its involvement.
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