IDF releases footage of Gaza-Egypt border tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons

Army says troops have demolished dozens of tunnel shafts and several ‘significant’ underground routes along the so-called Philadelphi Corridor, destroyed 5 primed rocket launchers

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Rocket launchers found by the IDF on the Gaza-Egypt border, in a handout photo published May 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Rocket launchers found by the IDF on the Gaza-Egypt border, in a handout photo published May 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Friday released footage showing Hamas smuggling tunnels and rocket launchers discovered by troops along the Gaza-Egypt border, as Israel continued to move forward with its pinpoint offensive in the coastal enclave’s southernmost city of Rafah.

Along the so-called Philadelphi Corridor, adjacent to Rafah, the IDF has located so far some 20 tunnels that cross into Egypt. Another 82 tunnel shafts leading into the tunnels have been located in the corridor area.

Hamas has been known to use such tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza, despite attempts by Egypt to thwart them in the past decade. A “high-level” source speaking to Egyptian state media this week denied such tunnels still exist.

The IDF said it has so far demolished dozens of tunnel shafts and several “significant” underground routes in the corridor area, while others are still being investigated.

Hamas operatives were killed by IDF troops inside some of the tunnels, the military said.

The IDF also said it located five primed rocket launching sites along the Gaza-Egypt border. The launchers were all demolished.

On Wednesday, the IDF announced that it had established “operational control” over the entire Philadelphi Corridor. Troops are physically located in most of the corridor. There is a small section near the coast where ground forces are not present, but the IDF says it is controlling the area with surveillance and firepower.

The release of the footage came after the military announced earlier Friday that Israeli forces located long-range rockets and additional weapons and military equipment in the eastern part of Rafah and along the Philadelphi Corridor. Additionally, the IDF confirmed for the first time that it was operating in the center of Rafah, a day after tanks were reported in the area.

As it pushed further into Rafah, the military also said Friday that soldiers pulled out of the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, wrapping up an operation to clear out Hamas-led fighters who had re-entrenched there.

Despite a growing wave of international criticism of the operation, the IDF has asserted that Rafah is the last major remaining Hamas stronghold in the Strip, and suggested that many of the remaining hostages captured by the terror group on October 7 could be held in the city.

IDF troops operate in southern Gaza’s Rafah , in a handout photo published May 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

War broke out on October 7 when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israeli communities and army positions, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 252 hostages, including a number of bodies.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 22,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle.

294 soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

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