By DANIELLA CHESLOW
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Monday it has discovered and destroyed a tunnel burrowing from Gaza into Israel — the first tunnel to be discovered since Israel’s 2014 war with the militant Hamas movement that runs the coastal strip.
Israeli troops detected the tunnel’s exit, still underground, several days ago, according to military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, who added he believes the tunnel was built after the summer war.
It extended several hundred meters (yards) from Gaza into Israel and was lined with cement and outfitted with electricity, ventilation and rail tracks to cart away dirt from digging, Lerner said.
It was not clear when exactly the tunnel was destroyed.
In 2014, Israel destroyed more than 30 tunnels Hamas had dug under the border. More than 2,200 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them civilians, were killed in the 50-day summer war. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and seven civilians were killed.
Hamas vowed to rebuild the tunnel network. This year, 14 people died in Gaza while digging tunnels aimed at attacking Israelis or for hiding weapons and rocket launch sites. Israelis living near the Gaza Strip have reported hearing digging sounds under their homes in recent months.
Spokesman Eyal Brandeis of Kibbutz Sufa — just across the border from the southern Gaza Strip — told Israel Radio the tunnel’s exit would have been near his community. In 2014, Palestinian gunmen attempted to attack Israel through another tunnel near the kibbutz.
“All the worries and fears residents here had … are coming back,” Brandeis said.
This story has been corrected to show that the length of the discovered tunnel was several hundred meters, not 100 meters (yards).