JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel.
The tunnel, which originated in Rafah in Gaza, stretched hundreds of yards into both Israeli and Egyptian territory. The tunnel was dug under the Kerem Shalom border crossing, including going underneath the gas and diesel pipelines located under the crossing.
The Kerem Shalom crossing, the only commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel, was closed on Saturday night until further notice.
Israeli jets bombed the tunnel opening on the Gaza side of the border late on Saturday night.
Hamas claimed the tunnel was used only for smuggling, a claim that was denied by the IDF. The IDF said the tunnel was used to smuggle weapons and terrorists into both Israel and Egypt.
“This is a severe breach of Israel’s sovereignty, a serious threat to Israeli civilians and a threat to the humanitarian efforts that Israel allows for the people in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement. The IDF said it holds Hamas responsible for all activity emanating from Gaza.
It is at least the third Gaza terror tunnel destroyed by the IDF in recent months. The IDF also said the tunnel, with an arm also reaching into Egypt and going directly under the Kerem Shalom crossing, is unlike other tunnels it has seen.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the strike on the tunnel as he boarded a plane late Saturday night for an official visit to India: “This evening, the IDF attacked a main Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. There are some who say that the IDF attacks sand dunes – this is incorrect. We are responding to aggression against the State of Israel and are taking vigorous and systematic action against hostile infrastructures.”
The IDF expects to destroy more tunnels in the near future. Over the past year, the military has been building an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip to prevent other tunnels from being built from Gaza to Israel.
The IDF will continue its efforts above and below ground to thwart any attempts to harm Israeli civilians pic.twitter.com/YGtJk37MH2
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) January 14, 2018