The IDF announced they destroyed a Hamas tunnel from Gaza on Thursday morning that crossed over the border. The tunnel, more than half a mile long, infiltrated more than 200 yards into Israel. The purpose of such tunnels is to launch attacks from inside against Israeli civilians. This is the 15th such tunnel the IDF destroyed this year.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told the media that the IDF had been monitoring the tunnel for several months before the decision was made to destroy it.
“This specific tunnel, in the way it was built, indicates that Hamas is trying to challenge our counter-tunnel efforts. They are changing the way they excavate in order to make it more difficult for us to detect them,” Conricus said.“But we have different technological developments that allow us to bridge that gap as well,” he said.
The tunnel was reportedly part of a larger tunnel complex. “This tunnel had electricity, as well as communication hardware, and seemed to be of high quality,” he said.
According to Conricus, the tunnel that was destroyed Thursday was not “immediately adjacent to any Israeli communities,” but was nevertheless deemed a threat to Israel.
The IDF spokesman bemoaned the humanitarian cost of building tunnels instead of using the resources to help improve the plight of Gazans.
We estimate $3 million worth of cement, electrical equipment, and hours of labor were invested in this tunnel instead of investing in healthcare, education, or food for the people of Gaza. pic.twitter.com/AVyhsWtipT
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) October 11, 2018
In June, the IDF discovered evidence indicating that Hamas was using humanitarian aid supplies from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the construction of terrorist tunnels.
Tensions along Israel’s southern border have been intensifying due to the ongoing Hamas-led March of Return protests. Many media have portrayed this as “peaceful or legitimate protests” despite protesters hurling firebombs and hand grenades at IDF troops stationed on the security fence separating Israel from Gaza. Thousands of incendiary kites and balloons have been launched at Israel by Hamas operatives, burning an estimated 7,000-9,000 acres of farmland and nature reserves. Gazan sources have reported 195 Palestinians killed, many of whom Hamas has admitted are their military personnel.
At a meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet members that he was considering a military solution for the ongoing violence.
“If the reality of civil distress in Gaza is diminished, that is desirable, but that is not certain to happen, and so we are preparing militarily,” Netanyahu said in meeting. “That is not an empty statement.”