The Israeli army Saturday destroyed a tunnel running under the border between Gaza and Israel, reaching all the way to the Egyptian side of the crossing.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, it was dug from Rafah, at a length of one mile. At around 11 p.m. Saturday night, Israeli war planes targeted the tunnel on the Gazan side in Rafah, about one yard from the border with Israel.
The tunnel — which is under strategic gas and fuel pipelines — penetrated 600 feet into Israeli territory, passing underneath Kerem Shalom checkpoint, the only commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel, which serves as Gaza’s main point of humanitarian aid. Israel shut down the crossing as a result until further notice.
Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said, “We have not encountered a tunnel like that before,” noting that in addition to the airstrikes, other unspecified means were used to destroy the tunnel portions in Israeli territory. He added that Israel had coordinated with Egypt on the operation.
The incident marks the third time the IDF has uncovered and destroyed Hamas tunnels in the last two months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is committed to respond to the Hamas terrorist organization.
“There are those who have said the IDF just targeted sand dunes — this is incorrect,” Netanyahu said in remarks to Israeli media before departing on his trip to India. “Hamas must understand that we will not permit these attacks, and we will respond with even greater force.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the operation as “professional and precise,” and added that “destroying the network of offensive tunnels is an essential component in our policy of systematically damaging the strategic abilities of Hamas.”
“The message to the Gaza leadership and residents is clear — invest in life and not burial tunnels,” Liberman added in a statement.