JERUSALEM, April 18 – Israel’s military said on Monday it has discovered a new infiltration tunnel, built by Hamas militants, stretching from the Gaza Strip several hundred meters (yards) inside Israeli territory.
“We have neutralized the tunnel in Israeli territory, rendering it unusable for infiltration by Hamas terrorists,” Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said in a conference call with foreign journalists.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, had no immediate comment on the discovery, which could ratchet up tensions along a frontier that has been largely quiet since the end of a 2014 war.
Lerner said the tunnel was the first discovered inside Israeli territory since the conflict nearly two years ago. During seven weeks of fighting, Hamas used tunnels leading into Israel to infiltrate on four occasions, killing 12 soldiers.
Israel said it destroyed 32 tunnels during the Gaza war, and that it was developing technologies aimed at countering efforts by Hamas to rebuild its network.
“This is a new tunnel. Several hundred meters long. We found it close to the border area,” Lerner said. “We aren’t elaborating on the specifics of technology (that led to discovery). But I would say it was a combination of technology, intelligence, engineering capabilities and boots on the ground.”