Gaza Terror Tunnel Into Israel Discovered and Detonated

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
In this file photo, IDF soldiers enter a tunnel discovered near the Israel-Gaza border. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The IDF said it discovered and detonated a terror tunnel on Monday that was dug from Gaza into Israel, in a rare flare-up along the tense border that has remained largely quiet since a 2014 war with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that thanks to groundbreaking technology, this “active tunnel,” which was still being dug, was discovered and forces blew it up inside Israeli territory. He said military intelligence had been tracking it for some time.

He called it a “grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty” and said that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the breach of its territory. Conricus said the assumption is there are more tunnels boring into Israel aimed at attacking its soldiers and citizens.

During the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Hamas terrorists on several occasions made their way into Israel through a tunnel network that caught Israel off guard. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations terrified the local population. Israel destroyed 32 tunnels during that conflict, and since then has made neutralizing the tunnel threat a top priority.

“Those who try to harm us, we harm them,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Today we detected a tunnel and destroyed it and we will continue to do so.”

Israel has long claimed Hamas has been investing in new tunnels since the last war to attack Israel rather than helping its own people recover.

The IDF’s latest discovery followed word from the United Nation’s refugee agency that it had found what appeared to be a tunnel burrowed beneath one of the schools it operates in the Gaza Strip. Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said in a statement that the organization “robustly intervened with relevant parties to protest the violation.”

Israel’s military body responsible for governing Palestinian affairs noted UNRWA’s condemnation, adding that “Hamas is lying not only to the world but to the people of Gaza.”

President Donald Trump’s special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt took to social media to rail against Hamas, which the United States, like most of the West, considers a terrorist organization.

“Hamas uses the world’s generosity to shield terror. Palestinians in Gaza deserve so much better,” Greenblatt wrote.