The IDF published video footage of the demolition, which showed Israeli engineers drilling into the tunnel from above.
It was the 15th tunnel that has been destroyed by the IDF since October 2017. The sophisticated tunnel, which was over one kilometre long and wired with electricity and communication systems, cost an estimated £2.3 million to build.
Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed that Israel would continue to fight the tunnel threat. “The terror tunnel we destroyed this morning is another tunnel that Hamas will not have in the next war. Every day we get closer to destroying the weapon of tunnels”, he said.
According to the IDF, Hamas is now attempting to make it harder for Israel’s detection systems to find the tunnels. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said: “This specific tunnel, in the way it was built, indicates that Hamas is trying to challenge our counter-tunnel efforts. They are changing the way they excavate in order to make it more difficult for us to detect them”.
He said the military had been monitoring this tunnel for many months before deciding to destroy it on Thursday.
Israel is now constructing an underground barrier along the Gaza border to prevent further tunnels from being built.
Israel has accused Hamas of diverting humanitarian aid to finance its terrorist activities. In an Arabic-language video posted on Facebook, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said: “Residents of Gaza, see the full picture: Despite your distress, the terrorist organisation 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”.
According to senior military and defence officials, Hamas has fully restored its military strength to levels before the 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict in Gaza, including its rocket arsenal and military infrastructure.