Army Destroys Gaza Attack Tunnel That Reached Inside Israel

IDF says kilometer-long tunnel was part of wider network of tunnels, included phone and power lines. Despite this, spokesman says Hamas is recognizing Gaza humanitarian efforts and is simmering violence down

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Image of the tunnel destroyed by the Israeli army on October 11, 2018
Image of the tunnel destroyed by the Israeli army on October 11, 2018Credit: Israeli army Spokesperson's Unit

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it destroyed an attack tunnel reaching from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the military had known of the tunnel for several months. According to Manelis, the tunnel was one kilometer long – 200 meters of which was located in Israeli territory – and was connected to a wider network of tunnels.

"It has different construction methods to what we've seen. It phone and power lines," Manelis said, adding that Israel has knowledge of several other tunnels which it claims Hamas was planning to use for terrorist attack.

Manelis also said the army has marked a drop in confrontations in recent days, in both incendiary balloon launches and clashes along the fence.

"There are indications of an intent to simmer down the violence a little. Hamas sees, in the last week, different attempts to improve the humanitarian condition in the Strip and it responds to that. The significant test will be tomorrow," he said.

Image of the tunnel destroyed by the Israeli army on October 11, 2018Credit: Israeli army Spokesperson's Unit

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also commented on the tunnel's destruction on Thursday, saying Israel "never stops working for a minute, above and under the ground. The terror tunnel we destroyed this morning is another tunnel which will not serve Hamas in the next campaign."

The announement came after the IDF said the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated after misidentifying a rocket launch from Gaza. Rocket sirens sounded in the Israeli communities of Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev.

Meanwhile, several roads on the Gaza border were closed by Israeli security forces as heavy army presence was reported. The reasons for the closure of the roads have yet to be made public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel is working to ease conditions in the Gaza Strip in order to prevent an escalation in the south.

>> Israeli army believes surging Gaza violence doesn't justify wider conflict

"We are trying to bring about a solution that will restore quiet and security for the communities near the Gaza border," he said at a press conference in Jerusalem.

"We regularly act to prevent casualties… because of our actions, there is some caution, I would say, on the Palestinians side – and I think that they too understand that if a conflict erupts here the price they will pay will be very high," he said.

Earlier this week, Palestinians broke through the inner border fence and set fire to camouflage netting at an unmanned Israeli army sniper post. Video clips of the incident were posted on social media on Monday, eliciting an IDF spokesman’s response, even though the IDF had not reported it.

Prior to the incident, about 7,000 Gazans turned up near the Israeli border fence in the northern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Zikim. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 29 Palestinians were wounded on Monday in clashes with the IDF, among them 11 by live fire.

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