Israel’s military has confirmed that for the first time ever it has destroyed an underwater terror tunnel built by Hamas, intended for use by the organisation’s elite Nukhba naval commandos to carry out attacks against Israel.
In response to repeated rocket attacks from Gaza, Israeli Air Forces conducted a series of raids on 3rd June, with over 65 targets, destroying a Hamas tunnel in the Gaza strip reaching an estimated depth of three meters underwater just three kilometres from the Israeli border.
The tunnel, dug by Hamas, did not cross into Israeli territory but instead extended several meters into the sea, so that Hamas divers could go out to the sea without being detected by IDF observers.
The Israeli navy are said to have known about the tunnel for a few months and revealed on Sunday that it was a specific target of the airstrikes. This was the first Hamas undersea tunnel destroyed by the IDF.
This is not the first time Hamas has used the sea to try execute terrorist attacks. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, five Hamas naval commandos tried to enter the shores of the Southern Israeli community of Zikim while armed with automatic weapons, fragmentation grenades, as well as numerous explosives devices but were soon shut down in a joint attack from Israel’s sea, ground and air forces.
On 27th May, the Israeli defence ministry announced that work had begun on marine barriers to help prevent terror attacks from the sea. The barrier is expected to be complete by 2019.
The Israeli military has long understood that Hamas have significantly increased their naval capabilities, expanding in terms of technology advancements as well as frogmen training, and hopes the new barrier will prevent further attempted attacks from the sea.