The Israeli Air Force strike in Gaza on Saturday night effectively destroyed a terror tunnel used by Hamas for acts of terrorism, stated IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Ronen Manelis.
The tunnel started in the Rafah area 900 meters into Gaza and extended 180 meters into Israel. It passed under the gas pipeline between Egypt and Gaza.
IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis says that the tunnel was located several days ago.
“Last night, we carried out a professional and precise operation over a blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the IDF said in a statement.
“The demolition of the attack tunnel system is an important factor in the policy of systematically harming Hamas’ strategic ability. The message to Gaza leadership and its residents is clear: Invest in the sanctity of life, and not in burial tunnels.”
IDF forces are believed to have destroyed four terror tunnels since late October, targeting one in October, one in December, and two in January.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said “Last night we performed a professional and precise action. This involved a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty. Destroying the system of terror tunnels is a vital aspect of the policy of systematic destruction of Hamas’s strategic capabilities. The message to the Gaza leadership and residents is clear- invest in the sanctity of life and not in burial tunnels.”
IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis denied claims made by Hamas that the tunnel was merely intended for smuggling.
“This is the first terror tunnel of its kind that has been dug over the last year and was still being worked on. It’s possible that the it was dug on the Egyptian side to stage a combined attack in the future on the Kerem Shalom crossing from the Egyptian side too and to transport terrorists or weapons to the Sinai,” Manelis said.
“It is a significant asset for Hamas. We will continue to act rigorously against the terror tunnels and we are not interested in an escalation of the situation,” Manelis continued. “The tunnel endangered the Kerem Shalom crossing and Hamas did this cynically and absurdly.”
The incident marks the fourth time the IDF has uncovered and destroyed Hamas terror tunnels in the last three months, but a different method was adopted to neutralize the latest tunnel.
“One time it is an incident, two times it is a coincidence and three times it is a system,” Manelis asserted. “The IDF has the most advanced ability in the world against tunnels, but it is not a magic solution and it is still a process. Through that crossing, tens of thousands of tons of merchandise is transported to the Palestinians.”
Other officials in the IDF also refuted Hamas claims that the tunnel was intended only for smuggling. “We know how smuggling tunnels look … and this is absolutely a terror tunnel, the central part of which was dug underneath a commercial crossing.”