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A crater marks the spot where an Israeli missile struck an underground military site in Gaza
Image: Reuters/I. A. Mustafa

Israel destroys new Hamas tunnel in Gaza

March 18, 2018

It was the fourth such tunnel destroyed by Israeli forces in as many months. The Israeli military also launched an airstrike against an underground military complex in Gaza.


Israeli forces destroyed a tunnel on Sunday that was being built by Hamas militants in Gaza.

The tunnel had been partially destroyed during Israel's war with Gaza in 2014 and Hamas had attempted to put it back into operation, according to an Israeli military spokesman.

The tunnel was several hundred meters from Israel's border fence, near the Gazan city of Rafah, but Israeli military forces did not cross into Gaza to destroy it.

Instead, they used a new technique to render the tunnel inoperable, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

"We did not use explosives. It (the tunnel) was filled with a certain material, with a certain compound," Conricus said.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, dismissed the Israeli claim, saying their foes were "marketing fake achievements" in an attempt to raise the morale of their soldiers and Israelis living nearby.

Israel "bears all the consequences of the escalation," said Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control over the enclave's land and sea border.

Likewise, Egypt keeps its border with Gaza mostly closed, citing security concerns.

Read more: Tunnel found, fresh Gaza clashes

Hamas fighters used dozens of tunnels to blindside Israel's superior forces during the 2014 conflict. Since then Israel has sought to develop countermeasures, including a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 35-mile (60-kilometer) border.

Overnight airstrike

Israel expects to complete the project by the middle of 2019 at a cost of $1.1 billion (900 million euros).

"Our policy is to act resolutely against any attempt to harm us and systematically eliminate the terror tunnel infrastructure, and we will continue doing so," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

The latest tunnel destruction is the fourth in as many months by Israeli forces. The destruction of the tunnel followed Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in response to bombs planted along the border in an attempt to harm Israeli soldiers.

Israel's air force carried out an overnight strike against another underground Hamas facility in Gaza.

"It was a subterranean complex, a military complex," said Conricus, the Israeli military spokesman. He refused to give more details.

Resident Amal Malaka spoke of her fear during the strike in Gaza City.

"We heard the sound of shelling, the whole of the house shaking and the windows too," she said.

No casualties were reported in either incident, the latter of which came after a bomb was detonated near the Gaza border with Israel, the latest in a string of such incidents.

bik/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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