The IDF on Thursday announced it had destroyed a tunnel that penetrated some 200 meters into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.
“We just destroyed a cross-border terror tunnel that infiltrated Israel from Gaza, built by Hamas with the aim of attacking a nearby Israeli community, the IDF said on Twitter, adding this was the 15th tunnel destroyed by Israel in the past year.
The one kilometer-long tunnel, which originated in the area of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, was “part of and connected to a military tunnel network,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Press and New Media Branch at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
The military said that the route of the tunnel was discovered as part of the ongoing technological, operational and intelligence efforts to locate and neutralize terror tunnels which began during Operation Protective Edge and have expanded over the last year.
An engineering operation led by the IDF Southern Command and Intelligence Directorate, together with IMOD’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), neutralized the tunnel within Israeli territory.
“This specific tunnel, in the way it was built, indicates that Hamas is trying to challenge our counter-tunnel efforts,” Conricus said. “They are changing the way they excavate in order to make it more difficult for us to detect them, but we have different technological developments that allow us to bridge that gap as well.”
According to Conricus, the tunnel that was destroyed Thursday was not “immediately adjacent to any Israeli communities,” but was nevertheless deemed a threat to Israel. It was a “complex” tunnel with “multiple branches,” the spokesperson said.
“This tunnel had electricity, as well as communication hardware, and seemed to be of high quality,” he emphasized.
The military had been monitoring the tunnel for several months before the decision was made to destroy it Thursday morning.
"The decision on the timing of the work [to neutralize the tunnel] has to do with operational considerations, as well as the fact the tunnel connects to a network of fighting tunnels inside the strip," said IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis.
The tunnel was said to have been expanded “in several places” dug from numerous digging sites; and was connected to electricity and communications networks.
"We studied and investigated the tunnel to improve our fighting capabilities facing the threat of Hamas's tunnel network inside the strip,” Manelis added.