Hamas told Iranian television Sunday that it has a new terror tunnel which it claims reaches into Israel.
According to group members who spoke to the al-Alam Arabic-language TV station, the tunnel is 3.5 kilometers (just over 2 miles) long and will be used in “the next round” of violence against Israel.
It is not not clear from the footage whether the tunnel was in fact new or merely a segment of an old tunnel filmed in last summer’s conflict.
During the 50-day Operation Protective Edge last summer, terror tunnels played a significant role in Hamas’s strategy. The tunnels were used to ambush Israeli soldiers. 12 were killed in separate attacks during Operation Protective Edge.
The tunnels were intended for use in civilian kidnapping plots, as well, as was done in 2006, when Gilad Shalit was taken. Israel destroyed some two dozen tunnels during the conflict.
Since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel last August, the ruling party of Gaza has invested its energy and resources in rebuilding its destroyed tunnel network. Humanitarian aid, such as concrete, sent to reconstruct damaged neighborhoods, has been redirected towards rebuilding the tunnels. Heavy machinery has been seen in use on the Gaza side of the border.
Meanwhile, sounds of digging have been reported in border communities in Israel. Due to mounting concerns over the tunnels, the IDF has invested in developing tunnel detection technologies, some of which were deployed in April.
Hamas military preparations are ongoing, including the deployment of troops along Israel’s border, and infantry and urban warfare exercises conducted at all levels.