Recently Uncovered Gaza Tunnel Reached 700 Meters Into Israel, IDF Reveals

The tunnel, which came unusually close to Israeli communities, was built by Hamas for the purpose of attacking Israel, the army says.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Inside the tunnel, March 20, 2014.
Inside the tunnel, March 20, 2014.Credit: IDF Spokesman
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

A tunnel discovered last week near the border with the Gaza Strip extended 700 meters into Israel, according to the army, deeper than the other three tunnels from Gaza found in the past year and a half.

The last tunnel the IDF discovered before then, in October, penetrated less than half as far into Israel.

A tunnel extending 700 meters into Israel could bring terrorists close to Israeli communities near the Gaza border. Kibbutz Nirim is only 1.5 kilometers from Gaza; Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha is 2.5 kilometers from Gaza.

An IDF source told Haaretz the tunnel is also the easternmost of the tunnels discovered to date.

As with the tunnel discovered near Kibbutz Nir Oz in October, the latest tunnel was discovered mainly thanks to stormy weather. The large quantity of rain that fell last week caused one of the tunnel’s entrances inside Israel to collapse. An alert farmer then noticed it and reported it to security forces.

A senior officer said that for most of its length, the tunnel was 8 or 9 meters below ground, but in some parts, it went as deep as 20 meters.

After spending the past several days trying to uncover all the tunnel’s branches, IDF soldiers concluded that it mainly consisted of a single central axis. This finding reinforced the IDF’s assessment that the tunnel was built by Hamas for the purpose of carrying out a terror attack in Israel. GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said the army is making “every effort to locate these infernal tunnels, and especially those aimed at communities. We’ll continue this activity until we locate and destroy every last tunnel.”

The IDF is investing great effort in locating tunnels, both by deploying dedicated intelligence teams to investigate them and by conducting physical searches, especially after heavy rains. The army is also seeking high-tech solutions to help it locate the tunnels. At this point, the effort is mostly low tech, involving flooding an area with water or hoping for rain.

“The technology issue is developing over time,” an engineering officer told Haaretz. “Some of the tunnels were discovered by actions we took,” like flooding or gathering intelligence. “But technological solutions have the power to discover tunnels.”

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