Terror Tunnel Collapse Kills IDF Officer

An Arab weapons-smuggling tunnel on the Egyptian border collapsed Monday, killing an Israeli officer and injuring another.

, | updated: 21:54

The soldiers were checking the tunnel's route and planning to destroy it when the rain-soaked ground caved in, sending them 25 feet under the rubble. Immediate rescue efforts failed to save one officer - Capt. Moshe Taranto, 23, of Ashdod. A helicopter rushed the other soldier to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva, where he was reported to be in moderate condition.

The tunnel, under what is known as the Philadelphi Route, was discovered last month by IDF Wt. Officer Moshe Elmaliach of Dimona, who paid for the discovery with his life. He saw the opening, alerted the army'sTunnels Unit, and was killed by a bomb that exploded as he was waiting for the unit soldiers to arrive. The bomb was apparently detonated by remote control.

The army has ordered an investigation into yesterday's tragedy. Hamas and Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade terrorists claimed they set off explosives causing the tunnel to collaps, but it is more likely that the wet ground caused the tunnel to crumble.
Moshe Taranto

Capt. Taranto was buried in the military cemetery of Ashdod this afternoon. His father related that Moshe recently told him that he knew the tunnels work was dangerous, "but someone has to do it."

The IDF has discovered about 100 tunnels used to smuggle arms, ammunition and more under the Israeli-Egyptian border over the past several years. The government has shown some willingness to turn control of the Philadelphi route over to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of the withdrawal plan, if the PA proves it can police the area.

In an unrelated incident Monday, Israeli soldiers killed two armed terrorists who attempted to attack an army post in central Gaza.