Israel

At Least Seven Terrorists Killed, 12 Injured as IDF Destroys Terror Tunnel Inside Israel

At least seven terrorists were killed and twelve more injured as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroyed a terror tunnel that had extended into Israeli territory, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

Hamas has said that one of the terrorists killed was a Hamas member, while the rest were from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization.

The IDF announced the destruction of the tunnel, which it called a “grave violation of Israeli sovereignty,” that the Gaza-based terrorist organization, Hamas, had dug into Israeli territory.

The IDF also said that Hamas is “responsible for all hostile activity” emanating from the Gaza Strip directed at Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credited the discovery of the tunnel to Israel’s new “breakthrough technology.”

“I told you many times before that we are developing breakthrough technology to deal with the tunnel threat,” said Netanyahu at the start a weekly meeting of the Likud party. “We are implementing it. Today, we located a tunnel and we destroyed it.”

According to the latest from Gaza’s health ministry, six members of the terrorist group were killed in the explosion and ten more were injured.

Col. (res) Atai Shelach, the former commander of the engineering combat unit, Yahalom, which is charge of detecting and destroying the terror tunnels built by Hamas, told The Israel Project that this latest demolition of a terror tunnel is “part of a race.” It wasn’t the first tunnel Israel destroyed, and it won’t be the last either, Shelach asserted.

The biggest challenge with the terror tunnels is detecting them, but once they’ve been identified, Shelach said, “the easiest part is to destroy it.”

Shelach would only say that Hamas had built many tunnels, but wouldn’t state how many he thought there were. However, he assessed that “There are many in several parts of operational situation. Some of them just in the beginning, some of them in the middle and some of them nearly to cross the border with Israel.”

Earlier this year, a member of Israel’s security cabinet estimated that Hamas built 15 tunnels into Israel.

In December of last year, Hamas official Khaled Meshaal said that “smuggling weapons and digging tunnels in Gaza to prepare for a confrontation with [Israel], which will taste its woes on the edge of the Gaza Strip.” Similarly, in May 2016, Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters that the tunnels were a sign that Hamas is preparing for another war against Israel.

In Your Complete Guide to Hamas’ Network of Terror Tunnels, which was published in the April 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine, Dan Feferman called the tunnels as Hamas’s “only strategic weapon.” He further described how Hamas attempted to use the tunnels to sow fear among Israeli civilians during the Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

During Protective Edge, a major tunnel infiltration aimed at the residents of a kibbutz near the Gaza border was thwarted just as terrorists were emerging on the Israeli side. Four more such attacks would be interdicted, some with the Hamas fighters having already crossed into Israel. One attack was successful; five Israeli soldiers were killed. Hamas even used a tunnel to try to kidnap a soldier after a ceasefire had come into effect. The tunnel extended for over a mile, some of it deep into Israeli territory. What had originally been an operation to halt Hamas’ rocket fire evolved into an operation to neutralize the tunnel threat.

A complete recording of the call with Shelach is embedded below.

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / YouTube]