Israeli security officials said soldiers uncovered one of the largest tunnels near the border with Gaza.
The discovery of the tunnel, which army spokesmen said was dug by Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel, was made public Thursday, according to a report Friday on nrg.co.il, the online edition of the Ma’ariv daily.
A senior officer, who was not named, told Ma’ariv Friday that claims by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, that the tunnel was old and not in use were false.
“We are still handling it but it may the biggest we’ve found so far,” the officer said, adding the the tunnel stretched hundreds of yards into Israel territory.
Photos of the tunnel show Israeli soldiers walking comfortably inside a seven-foot tall structure with concrete walls and a curved ceiling.
The tunnel was dug from the southern Gaza Strip in the direction of Kibbutz Ein Hashloshah.
Hamas spokesmen said Thursday the tunnel had not been in use since October and was exposed because of heavy rainfall. The senior IDF officer told Ma’ariv the tunnel was new and hitherto unknown to Israeli security forces.
On June 25, 2006, a team of Hamas militants and other terrorists used a tunnel they had secretly dug into Israel to abduct the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and kill two other soldiers, Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker. Shalit was held captive until 2011, when he was exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.