Daily Israel Report

Another 'Terror Tunnel' from Gaza Destroyed

IDF engineers working to demolish tunnel as Hamas promises "thousands more."
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 10/15/2013, 9:16 AM

Entrance of previous tunnel uncovered by IDF
Entrance of previous tunnel uncovered by IDF
Flash 90

Only days after the discovery of a "terror tunnel" in southern Israel dug by Gaza-based terrorists, Israeli security forces are working to demolish yet another similar tunnel early Tuesday morning.

The latest tunnel - believed to have been dug during last November's "Pillar of Defense" counterterrorism operation - contained "barrels of explosives," according to Channel Two

IDF engineers are currently working to destroy the tunnel and its deadly contents. A senior military source was quoted as saying that the latest tunnel was not a new discovery, though it is unclear why it was only being demolished now.

On Sunday it was revealed that IDF forces had uncovered a highly sophisticated tunnel leading from the Gaza town of Absan al-Zariz to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in southern Israel - a full 2.5 kilometers (over 1.5 miles) long.

The discovery was made the previous Thursday, but only released for publication three days later.

Shortly after details of the find were released to the media, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said it was "further proof" that Hamas "was continuing to prepare itself for confrontation with Israel and terror activities".

Initial speculation centered around two possible planned uses for the tunnel: as part of a plan by terrorists to launch an attack on nearby Israeli communities, or to kidnap an Israeli soldier or civilian to trade for convicted Arab terrorists currently in Israeli jails, in a repeat performance of the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

But senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk gave credence to the second theory yesterday, during a press conference in which he took responsibility for the tunnel on behalf of Hamas.

"The tunnel discovered by Israel was constructed with much blood and money, and through great effort," by the Islamist group, Marzouk said.

"But all of this is dwarfed by the imperative to free the Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails," he added.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Abu Ubeida promised that the tunnel exposed last week was "the first of many," claiming the group's fighters were determined to dig "thousands" more.

Attempts to kidnap Israeli citizens as "bargaining chips" for the release of imprisoned terrorists have spiked since the one-sided prisoner swap in 2011, in which Israel released 1,027 Arab terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

That deal was seen as a significant victory by Hamas, which - along with other terrorist groups - has since channeled significant resources into efforts to replicate its success. Several attempted kidnappings have been thwarted since then by Israeli security forces.

The Shalit Deal has also been blamed by some for inspiring the murder of off-duty IDF soldier Tomer Hazan by his Palestinian Arab coworker Nadal Amar.

Amar was apprehended by security forces, and claimed to have carried out the attack in an attempt to trade the murdered man's body for his imprisoned brother, a Fatah terrorist.