By ISRAEL HAYOM—
A 2½-kilometer (1½-mile) tunnel running from the Gaza Strip under the border and ending up near the Israeli border kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was uncovered last Thursday, it was released for publication on Sunday.
IDF units uncovered the massive tunnel last Thursday, and according to defense officials quoted on Army Radio, it was meant to abduct soldiers or carry out a large terror attack.
According to Army Radio, equipment for the abduction and transfer of people were found inside the tunnel, including a transportation mechanism that could quickly ferry away a hostage.
At a speech last week in Bar-Ilan University, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that the next war Israel might face could start with a terror tunnel attack at an Israeli border town or at a local kindergarten there.
The tunnel is able to hold several hostages and spirit them away quickly into the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported.
The tunnel is 15 meters (about 50 feet) deep, and has several exits. Its final exit was discovered in farmland near Ein Hashlosha.
The residents of Ein Hashlosha heard digging and alerted the IDF, which then uncovered it.
Eshkol region local council head Haim Yalin said the tunnel entered 400 meters (a quarter mile) into Israel and “looks like the New York subway and was apparently meant for abducting troops.”
The starting point of the tunnel is located in the village of Abasan Al-Sair, located between the town of Khan Yunis and the border fence with Israel. Over the weekend, special forces of the Yahalom Combat Engineering unit conducted extensive engineering tests at the tunnel to examine whether it contained explosives.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon issued a statement on Sunday, saying “the discovery of this terror tunnel on the Gaza border serves as additional proof that the Hamas terror organization is continually preparing for a confrontation with the state of Israel and to carry out terror attacks, if it feels they are made possible, despite the cease-fire that it has been coerced into by IDF deterrence. The IDF’s discovery of the tunnel warrants commendation because it prevented attacks against Israeli civilians who live near the border and against Israeli soldiers in the area.”
“The IDF and Israel’s security forces must continue to take action to expose future attempts by Hamas and other terror organizations to harm Israel’s citizens and soldiers. It is the duty of all the relevant bodies to be extremely vigilant, because our basic assumption is that terror groups in Gaza are constantly digging tunnels to use in terror attacks at the earliest opportunity,” the statement said.
“Over the weekend, I issued a directive to stop the entry of construction materials into Gaza. We will continue to act with determination, responsibility and thoughtfulness to defend Israel and its citizens, and we will respond aggressively against anyone who tries to hurt them,” Ya’alon said.