The IDF discovered a deep Hamas cross-border tunnel in recent days, stretching from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel. The discovery of the tunnel was kept under a media ban until Monday morning.
The tunnel is 30 meters deep, and was likely dug after the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, according to IDF assessments, though this has not been fully verified.
A senior security source said a "systematic, intelligence-based, technological, engineering, and operational" approach resulted in the finding of the tunnel. "We have to turn this event, of finding a tunnel, into a technique, and find more tunnels," he added.
"The challenge is very big. The tunnels are very deep. We have capabilities that do not exist anywhere else in the world. We can detect, at depths of 30 to 40 meters," the source said. "It is a very complex process." He declined to discuss the technological detection techniques, which remain classified, saying only that "we have developed all sorts of capabilities in recent years, and they have reached the fruition stage." According to defense sources, prior to Operation Protective Edge, the defense establishment was able to find tunnels through randomly drilling holes next to each other along the Gaza border.
"This [the discovery] was not random, but the result of a pattern. It is a technique that identified their tunnel," the source added.
A second defense source said Israel is "in a different place" compared to where it was prior to the 2014 conflict when it came to finding tunnels.
The Israeli defense establishment assesses that Hamas is digging several additional attack tunnels, and that these have likely come to within a few meters of the border, but have not yet crossed it.
Other Israeli media reported that the tunnel extended 150-200 meters into Israel (Arabic media quoting Channel 10.)
Not wanting an escalation, Hamas is denying that this is a new tunnel. But its depth and the fact that it wasn't used in 2014 seems to show that they are lying.
Ma'an indicates that the tunnel was on the southern side of Gaza and that Israel destroyed it on both sides of the border in an incursion last week.
Hamas' reaction so far as been that Israel is going to use this as an excuse to deny cement into Gaza. This is likely to be the anti-Israel meme, that Israel is just looking for reasons to make Gazans suffer.
Although it would appear that such a tunnel is an act of war, Israeli authorities are downplaying that aspect, expressing confidence that their technology to detect tunnels is now light-years ahead of what it used to be and that any future tunnels in Israeli territory would be quickly discovered and "neutralized."
The screenshot image at the top of this post shows that Israel is using camera crawler technology from a UK firm that crawls inside pipes (and presumably small openings) to take video of these tunnels.
Will the BDSers now attack Mini-cam for selling such technology to Israel?
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