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Hamas has tried to send commandos into Israel — army official

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Hamas terror group has tried at least three times to send its commando soldiers into Israel from the Gaza Strip through tunnels that come up to — but do not cross — the border during the current round of fighting, a senior officer in the military’s Southern Command tells reporters.

Israel has prevented all three of these infiltration attempts, twice bombing the tunnels while the Hamas operatives were inside near the Gazan city of Khan Younis and once attacking them before they entered the subterranean passage, the officer says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel Defense Forces artillery fires toward the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2021, amid fighting between the IDF and the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces believes that Hamas is looking to carry out some kind of cross-border attack or other major assault, which it can hold up as a victory over Israel, the Southern Command officer says.

The senior officer says he believes the military’s intelligence capabilities are good enough that the terror group would not be able to conduct a large invasion into Israel without the IDF finding out about it in advance and preventing it, but warns that a smaller operation may be possible.

“I don’t think Hamas can do a major surprise ground operation, but it could do a raid,” he says.

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