IDF: Hamas used over 6,000 tons of concrete, 1,800 tons of steel for Gaza tunnels

Citing new intel, military says terror group invested tens of millions of dollars in subterranean network project; issues video of tunnel in southern Gaza that held hostages

Israeli soldiers show journalists an underground tunnel where the IDF said it had found evidence hostages were held by terrorists in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on January 10. 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli soldiers show journalists an underground tunnel where the IDF said it had found evidence hostages were held by terrorists in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on January 10. 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Hamas used more than 6,000 tons of concrete and 1,800 tons of steel for the hundreds of kilometers of tunnels it built beneath the Gaza Strip, the IDF said Thursday, citing new intelligence. It also revealed new video footage of a tunnel in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis where it believes hostages were previously held by the terror group.

The IDF said information recovered by troops in Gaza, along with the hundreds of underground passages that have been investigated so far, indicated that Hamas invested tens of millions of dollars in its tunnels project.

“The Hamas terror organization chose to invest these precious resources in building a terror infrastructure used to harm Israeli citizens and IDF forces, while cynically exploiting the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

Amid the ground operation in Gaza, now nearing its 100th day, the IDF has been operating to demolish Hamas’s main tunnel networks.

War erupted between Israel and Hamas after the terror group’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mostly civilians.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry has said killed over 23,000 people since. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 8,500 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Several hostages freed in a ceasefire deal in late November described being held inside tunnels, which Hamas has laid throughout the Gaza Strip and which Israel says have long been used to smuggle weapons and fighters throughout the enclave.

The tunnel seen in the footage released by the IDF on Thursday was located by the Commando Brigade, the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit and other special forces, and connects to a wide underground network.

“After investigating the tunnel, it can be said that there were Israeli hostages in it,” the IDF said.

It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during the late November truce. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 25 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Israel also believes that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hiding in a tunnel somewhere in Khan Younis.

On Wednesday, the military took journalists from international outlets to see the tunnel, and said that so far in the Khan Younis area, troops have uncovered more than 300 tunnel shafts leading to major Hamas tunnels in the area. More than 100 tunnels have so far been destroyed or rendered inoperable.

The city, Gaza’s second-largest, has become the focus of Israel’s campaign against Hamas in recent weeks. On Wednesday’s tour for journalists, no residents appeared to be in the area. Israel has ordered residents to evacuate portions of the city as it proceeds with the offensive.

Visiting the border with southern Gaza on Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant indicated that Israel was still in full fighting mode in Khan Younis.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant looking into Gaza on January 11, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

“There are a great many troops inside, west of here, operating within Khan Younis in a very, very impressive manner, above ground and below,” he said, while visiting an area across from the southeastern Gaza town of Khuza’a, on the outskirts of Khan Younis.

He said that there is no more justified war than the one being waged by Israel against Hamas and no army more moral than the IDF, in apparent reaction to genocide charges made against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague earlier on Thursday.

The army “still differentiates each day between [terrorists] who need to be eliminated and those who are uninvolved, for whom we provide access to humanitarian aid, medicine, food, water; to separate between the civilian population and murderous lowlife terrorists who we will hunt until they are finished off,” the defense minister said.

IDF troops operate in Gaza in a handout image cleared for publication on January 9, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Fighting also continued Thursday in Maghazi in the Strip’s center, the IDF said.

In one incident in Maghazi, troops of the Golani Brigade spotted three Hamas gunmen coming out of a tunnel. The gunmen were then struck by an aircraft, according to the IDF.

In another incident, the IDF said reservists of the Yiftah Brigade spotted eight Hamas operatives moving toward a school in Maghazi, and killed them with sniper fire.

In Khan Younis, the IDF said troops of the Givati Brigade spotted three Hamas operatives coming out of a building where weapons were stored, and called in an airstrike.

Also in the Khan Younis area, the Commando Brigade spotted two Hamas operatives, one planting an explosive device and the other observing from a rooftop. The IDF said both operatives were killed in an airstrike by a fighter jet.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during an IDF strike on January 11, 2024. (AFP)

The war has triggered an acute humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with an Israeli siege sparking shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine.

The UN humanitarian office said in a report that “access denials” and other constraints blocked most aid deliveries that had been planned this month.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said there are “nearly insurmountable challenges” to aid delivery in Gaza amid bombardment, movement restrictions, fuel shortages and interrupted communications.

The WHO says only a few Gaza hospitals are even partly functioning.

On Thursday afternoon, Palestinian media reported that an Israeli strike had targeted a car in the southern Gaza Strip, killing eight people.

The reports said the strike occurred in the al-Manara neighborhood of Khan Younis.

There was no immediate comment on the strike from Israeli authorities, though Israeli reports described the attack as a “targeted assassination.”

The war in Gaza against Hamas has claimed the lives of 186 Israeli soldiers since Israel launched a ground operation in late October to eliminate the Strip’s Hamas rulers and free hostages abducted during the terror group’s October 7 rampage.

The latest fatality, announced Wednesday morning, was Sgt. First Class (res.) Elkana Newlander, 24, a combat medic in the 99th Division from the West Bank settlement of Efrat, who was killed fighting in the central Gaza Strip Tuesday. A reservist from the Yiftach Brigade was seriously wounded in the same battle.

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