The IDF on Sunday said it has destroyed a tunnel built by the Hamas terror group that stretched from the Gaza Strip several hundred yards into Israeli territory, declaring a breakthrough in its war against underground threats from the Gaza Strip.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, told reporters that Israel had used a new set of “tools” developed since a 2014 war with Hamas in order to destroy the tunnel. He said forces had detected the tunnel months ago and continued to monitor construction efforts by Hamas terrorists before demolishing it.
Israel has made neutralizing the tunnel threat a top priority since that war, when Hamas terrorists on several occasions made their way into Israel. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations caught Israel off guard, killing five soldiers in one attack, and terrified the local population.
Conricus said a new system involving combat units, military intelligence, logistics and research had been used to destroy the tunnel. The system was first used to detect a tunnel that was destroyed on Oct. 30, but other aspects of the system were used this time around, he said.
“There seems to be a change, a paradigm here in how these terror tunnels will be able to threaten us in the future,” he said. “It is by no means behind us, but this will surely force the terrorist organizations to change techniques and to adapt.”
Hamas, the armed terror group that controls Gaza, declined to comment.
Conricus said the tunnel began in the central Gazan town of Khan Younis and stretched for over half a mile across the border and into Israel. Although not complete, he said the tunnel was “very substantial,” equipped with electricity, communications equipment and a ventilation system. It was located about a kilometer from an Israeli community.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the tunnels were an unacceptable threat and that Israel would invest “every resource” to stop them. “I hope that in the coming months the threat of tunnels on the residents surrounding Gaza will become a thing of the past,” he said.
The army said the timing of the weekend operation was not connected to a flare-up of deadly violence that followed President Donald Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.