Israel displayed on Sunday a Palestinian “terror tunnel” running into its territory from the Gaza Strip and said it was subsequently freezing the transfer of building material to the enclave.
“The discovery of the tunnel … prevented attempts to harm Israeli civilians who live close to the border and military forces in the area,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement, accusing Hamas of being behind construction of the 1.5-mile-long tunnel.
There was no claim of responsibility in Gaza.
Hamas, along with other terrorist groups, tunneled into Israel in 2006 and seized an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years before being exchanged for 1,400 Palestinians in Israeli jails.
The Israeli military said it found the tunnel along its fortified Gaza border last week near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and invited journalists to see it on Sunday.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated the army “for uncovering the terror tunnel.”
The military said the tunnel, dug in sandy soil, had been reinforced with concrete supports, and Yaalon announced that he was immediately halting the transfer of building material to the Gaza Strip.
For years, Israel had refused to allow these goods into the territory because it said terrorists would use them to build fortifications and weapons.
In 2010, as part of the easing of its Gaza blockade, Israel gave foreign aid organizations permission to import construction material for public projects. Last month, Israel resumed the transfer of cement and steel to Gaza’s private sector.