Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas on Thursday not “to try us” after the IDF revealed it had uncovered and neutralized another tunnel that reached from Gaza some 200 meters into Israel.
“Today another terror tunnel was exposed,” the prime minister said while touring the US Navy’s USS Ross guided-missile destroyer at Ashdod Port. “We are systematically dismantling the tunneling capability of Hamas. They must understand that it would not be worth their while to try us.”
Earlier in the day, the IDF announced that it had demolished the tunnel, which originated in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. It was the 15th tunnel destroyed by Israeli forces since October 2017, according to the IDF.
Footage released by the army showed Israeli combat engineers drilling into the tunnel from above and lowering a camera into it.
According to the IDF, the tunnel was over one kilometer long, with multiple branches, electricity, and a communication system. The military estimated that it cost Hamas some $3 million to construct the tunnel, including labor costs.
Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, accused Hamas of diverting funds for needy Gaza citizens to its terrorist activities.
“Residents of Gaza, see the full picture: Despite your distress, the terrorist organization Hamas continues to invest massive funds in terror instead of taking care of you and developing the civilian infrastructure in the Strip. Instead of using cement, iron, and gravel to build schools, playgrounds, and hospitals, Hamas uses these materials to build death tunnels of terror,” Abu Rokon said in an Arabic-language Facebook video.
He warned that Israel was prepared to do “whatever is necessary in order to defend the citizens of the State of Israel,” but was not interested in escalating the current situation in Gaza.
Netanyahu’s warning to Hamas came during a tour with US Ambassador David Friedman of the USS Ross at Ashdod Port.
“We are here for the first visit by an American destroyer to Ashdod in 19 years,” Netanyahu said on the tour. “This visit is very significant. It symbolizes the deep alliance between Israel and the United States. This destroyer operates against the terror in Syria, and the alliance between Israel and the United States is very tight in so many fields but it is especially tight in the security field.”
He added: “We are determined to act in order to defend ourselves against the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria and against the activity of its proxies there. [US] President [Donald] Trump has given full support to our policy and that this destroyer is visiting here today is an expression of that American support.”