IDF destroys terror tunnel penetrating Egypt and Israeli border crossing

Since October, the army has demolished three terror tunnels – one in October, one in December and this latest one, which penetrated Egypt and reached underneath the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

By Margot Dudkevitch

The IDF announced Sunday it had destroyed a cross-border Hamas attack tunnel in southern Gaza, the third such tunnel demolished by the army in recent months.

The army’s announcement came after the Israeli Air Force bombed the tunnel, located close to the border with Egypt, on Saturday night, and said that it was shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which facilitates the entry of hundreds of supplies into the Gaza Strip daily, until further notice.

The army said the tunnel, which began in Rafah in southern Gaza and penetrated into Egypt, was bolstered with cement walls and ran dozens of meters deep and one and a half kilometers long. It reached underneath the Kerem Shalom border crossing and below diesel and gas pipelines into Gaza, penetrating some 180 meters inside Israeli territory.

‘A serious threat to Israeli civilians’

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the discovery is the result of advanced cutting-edge technology used by the army to detect tunnels, as well as intelligence gathering and operational activities. Its existence constitutes “a severe breach of Israel’s sovereignty and a serious threat to Israeli civilians,” he said, noting the army was in contact with authorities in Cairo about the tunnel’s destruction. He would not elaborate further.

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Conricus emphasized that the tunnel’s existence also threatens the ongoing humanitarian assistance Israel offers the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the only commercial crossing taking supplies into Gaza.

IDF Spokesman Brig.Gen. Ronen Manelis said that Hamas was still working on the tunnel, which was clearly considered a significant asset by the terrorist organization. He told reporters that while the army has the most advanced technology in the world to detect tunnels, there is no magic solution to the threat.

Liberman tells Gazans: ‘Invest in the sanctity of life’

A statement released by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the destruction of the attack tunnels is an essential component of the policy of systematically harming Hamas’ strategic capabilities. “The message to Gaza’s leadership is clear, invest in the sanctity of life and not in digging your own catacombs.”

Prior to setting out for India, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Hamas needs to understand that we won’t allow these continued attacks, and we will respond with even greater force.”

Since October, the army has demolished three terror tunnels – one in October, one in December and this latest one. Some officials claim that an IAF strike in Gaza earlier this month targeted another tunnel, but there was no confirmation from the army.