IDF to follow up on claims of Gaza tunnel under kibbutz
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IDF to follow up on claims of Gaza tunnel under kibbutz

After private firm concludes subterranean activity below Nirim, army agrees to conduct investigation

Palestinian terrorists from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squat in a tunnel, used for ferrying rockets and mortars back and forth in preparation for the next conflict with Israel, as they take part in military training in the south of the Gaza Strip, on March 3, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
Palestinian terrorists from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squat in a tunnel, used for ferrying rockets and mortars back and forth in preparation for the next conflict with Israel, as they take part in military training in the south of the Gaza Strip, on March 3, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Amid reports that Hamas has been rebuilding its subterranean infrastructure, the IDF will investigate a possible attack tunnel running below a Gaza border town, following up on ongoing complaints by residents of Kibbutz Nirim that they have been hearing underground construction noises.

A resident of the Israeli border community with the Gaza Strip decided to turn to a private company to evaluate the site, and it concluded that a tunnel was indeed being constructed underground, prompting the army inquiry, Channel 10 reported Wednesday.

The inquiry comes amid sustained efforts by Hamas to rebuild its offensive capabilities against Israel, including the conscription of new fighters, rehabilitating its cross-border attack tunnels and restocking its rocket arsenal with longer-distance rockets.

“A number of side entrances to a tunnel were identified with 70 percent certainty. The tunnel route was mapped out and marked with geo-physical means,” the private report stated. “The findings support the residents’ claims.”

After the report was conveyed to army officials, they decided a tunnel-locating operation will be conducted. In a letter sent out to residents of the kibbutz, the IDF stated that the operation would take place “in the coming days.”

“Such operations have been taking place in several locations along the Gaza periphery for some time,” the army stated in the letter, adding that inquiries are conducted whenever information is received, whether from residents or from private firms.

“Any information the army gathers will be brought to the public,” it stated.

The Times of Israel reported in April that Hamas has begun using heavy machinery and engineering tools to accelerate the excavation of attack tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip under the Israeli border. The equipment, sources in the Palestinian enclave said, includes small bulldozers with the ability to maneuver in tight spaces.

Last month, the US Congress approved adding an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizing research and development of a US-Israeli anti-tunneling defense system.

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