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Hamas says Israel using foiled attack tunnel as distraction from its Gaza ‘crimes’

After the IDF announced it had discovered and destroyed the passageway, terror group says Palestinians have ‘full right to act in any way to strengthen their capabilities’

An aerial view shows security forces uncovering a Hamas tunnel along the northern Gaza border, in an image published by the IDF on August 15, 2022. The fence on the left is Israel's old barrier along the internationally recognized border, and the right fence is the new one, with the underground barrier. (Israel Defense Forces)
An aerial view shows security forces uncovering a Hamas tunnel along the northern Gaza border, in an image published by the IDF on August 15, 2022. The fence on the left is Israel's old barrier along the internationally recognized border, and the right fence is the new one, with the underground barrier. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hamas responded Monday to Israel’s announcement that it had located and destroyed an attack tunnel operated by the terror group, accusing the Jewish state of using the matter as a smokescreen to distract from its “crimes” in the Gaza Strip ahead of November elections.

“The claims are intended to cover up the crimes of the occupation against the residents of Gaza, aimed at marketing its false achievements and victories to the Israeli public for the purposes of the election,” Hamas spokesmen Fawzi Barhoum said.

He added that “the factions in Gaza have full right to act in any way to strengthen and develop their capabilities against the enemy’s crimes and the massacre that it carries out against our people.”

That was an apparent reference to a three-day battle with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group earlier this month, in which terrorists fired over 1,000 rockets at Israeli cities and Israeli jets bombed the territory. According to Hamas authorities, 49 Palestinians were killed — some of them, according to Israel, by misfired PIJ rockets that landed inside Gaza.

In a separate statement later in the day, Hamas said: “The Palestinian resistance has the right to use all means to enhance its capabilities against the arrogance and criminality” of Israel.

Earlier on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces revealed it had discovered and busted a tunnel dug by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip that crossed into Israeli territory though it did not manage to penetrate Israel’s border barrier.

According to the IDF, the “terror tunnel,” which had two branches, did not pose a danger to Israeli towns along the border, as Israel has a high-tech underground wall protecting its southern towns against Gazan attack tunnels, which once posed a major threat.

According to Brig. Gen. Nimrod Aloni, the outgoing commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, a part of the tunnel had been struck during May 2021’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, but had since been repaired and rebuilt, including the two new branches which extended into Israel.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, right, attends a press conference with a senior official of the organization, Khalil al-Hayya, in Gaza City, November 27, 2017. (AFP/Mohammad Abed)

“Recently, we identified efforts to restore the route of the old tunnel, and after conducting scans we located the tunnel with the two branches,” Aloni said.

The IDF did not say exactly how deep the tunnel was, but said its entrance was in the Gaza City area.

During last week’s round of fighting, the IDF struck another attack tunnel, this one from southern Gaza. It too did not cross into Israel due to the underground wall.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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