Collapsed Gaza tunnel was reportedly used to kidnap Israeli soldier

The tunnel that collapsed under Gaza City last week was used in the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, a senior Hamas official claimed on Saturday according to Palestinian media.

At a memorial in Gaza City for the eight terrorists killed in the tunnel collapse, senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayeh revealed that it had been used in the unconfirmed kidnapping of  IDF soldier Oron Shaul during Operation Protective Edge in 2014

“The tunnel in which the Al-Kassam men were martyred is the same one that was used to kidnap the Zionist soldier Oron Shaul during the aggression against the Gaza Strip,” Hamas officials proclaimed during the ceremony.

Hamas claims to be holding Shaul and one other soldier captive.

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The two soldiers, whose bodies were not recovered on the battlefield, were considered killed by the Israeli military due to forensic evidence, but the fate of the two soldiers has been kept secret by Hamas.

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The eight terrorists killed of the tunnel collapse, Hamas says, were all members of its Izzadin Al-Kassam military wing and were renovating the tunnel when it collapsed.

Al-Hayeh slammed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s criticism of Hamas’ renewed tunnel digging, and charged him with having previously “justified the crimes of Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people,” Palestinian media reported.

“The weapons that we possess is for defending our people and holy sites. Ban Ki-moon and all the others need to know that these weapons are for self-defense,” he said.

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that Hamas is “digging east of Gaza and conducting rocket tests west of Gaza on a daily basis,” and preparing “for any future clashes with the Zionist (Israeli) enemy.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a warning on Saturday that Israel was taking measures against the threat of Hamas tunnels, and that it would respond strongly to attacks by Hamas.

“We are working methodically and calmly against all threats, including the threat from Hamas, both in offensive measures and defensive measures,” Netanyahu said at a foreign ministry conference of Israeli ambassadors from around the world.

“Of course, if we came under attack from tunnels in the Gaza Strip we will act very strongly against Hamas, and with greater intensity than during Operation protective Edge,” he added.