The Israeli forces, engaged in combat with Hamas, said they had discovered the largest underground tunnel, fortified with concrete and iron.
The tunnel was allegedly designed to transport vehicles carrying carloads of terrorists from Gaza directly to the border.
The offensive initiated by Israel, following a series of killings and kidnappings conducted by Hamas terrorists in its southern towns and military bases on 7 October, among other things, aims to demolish or incapacitate hundreds of kilometers of subterranean tunnels and bunkers.
Among sites that Hamas overran in that attack was the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel. Just 100 metres (yards) south of the checkpoint, concealed in a sand dune, the military showed reporters the exit point of what it said was a flagship Hamas project.
The passageway descended at an angle, reaching a depth of 50 metres, at which point it broadened to a fairly spacious 3 metres in both height and width, complete with electrical installations.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the chief military spokesperson, stated that the tunnel extends for a full length of 4 km (2.5 miles), which is sufficient to reach into the northern part of Gaza City. This area was once the epicenter of Hamas governance and has now transformed into a severely damaged battlefield.
Hagari stated that the discovered tunnel in Gaza was the largest one, intended to target the Erez crossing.
“Millions of dollars were invested in this tunnel. It took years to build this tunnel … Vehicles could drive through," he said.
"The biggest Hamas terrorist tunnel discovered. This massive tunnel system branches out and spans well over four kilometers (2.5 miles). Its entrance is located only 400 meters (1,310 feet) from the Erez Crossing—used by Gazans on a daily basis to enter Israel for work and medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. This tunnel system was a project led by Mohammad Sinwar, the brother of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, and the commander of Hamas’ Khan Yunis Battalion," IDF wrote on X.
Typically, the tunnels that the group or the Israeli military revealed to the press have been small and short, intended for the individual movement of armed men. However, the tunnel that Hagari displayed had vertical shafts dropping downwards, indicating, in his opinion, that it was part of a more extensive network.
The tunnels have been a challenge for Israel’s engineers, worried that the networks could conceal hostages held by Hamas. That has slowed an offensive whose steep Palestinian civilian toll has alarmed world powers.
Hagari presented a video to journalists, featuring Mohammed Sinwar, the brother of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and a high-ranking member of the group himself. In the video, Sinwar is seen sitting in the passenger seat of a car, which Hagari claimed was being driven inside the tunnel.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
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