IDF says it foiled Hamas attack tunnel with two branches along northern Gaza border

Official says tunnel first struck during last year’s war, but since repaired and extended by Hamas; it crossed into Israeli territory, but posed no danger due to underground wall

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

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday revealed it discovered and “foiled” a tunnel dug by the Hamas terror group 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.

Israel’s subterranean barrier — an underground reinforced concrete wall that is studded with sensors to detect tunnels — runs parallel to the overground border — a 20-foot (six-meter) steel fence — inside Israeli territory, several dozen meters from the internationally marked border.

The IDF also has a network of radar arrays, other surveillance sensors, and remote-controlled weaponry along the border.

The IDF said it had found the tunnel as part of a “constant and ongoing effort to locate terror tunnels and neutralize them.”

“This is an attack tunnel with two branches, which crossed into Israeli territory but did not cross the new security barrier, and therefore did not pose a risk to the residents of Israel at any stage,” said Brig. Gen. Nimrod Aloni, the outgoing commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division.

The inside of a Hamas tunnel seen on the border with the Gaza Strip, in footage published by the military on August 15, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

He appeared to be indicating that had Hamas members exited the tunnel, they would have still faced Israel’s tall fence running along the border.

According to Aloni, 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.

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)

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

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

The tunnel was rendered inoperable after the military poured massive amounts of concrete into the two passages.

Engineering troops are seen operating along the northern Gaza border after a Hamas tunnel was discovered in the area, in an image published by the military on August 15, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

During a three-day battle with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group last week, the IDF struck another attack tunnel, this one from southern Gaza. It too did not cross into Israel due to the underground wall.

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