By Sara Gomez Armas
Gaza, Dec 17 (EFE).- The Israeli Army has uncovered the largest Hamas tunnel, stretching four kilometers long and 50 meters deep, at a short distance from the Erez crossing, a border passage frequently used by thousands of Palestinians commuting to work in Israel before the brutal Oct.7 attack.
“Millions of dollars have been spent on this tunnel, hundreds of tons of cement and a lot of electricity,” Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari told reporters inside the hidden structure that served as one of the entry points for Hamas militants to carry out the multi-pronged strike on Israel.
Hagari noted that the militant group, which de facto controls the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave, could have spent that money and resources “on hospitals, schools, housing, or other needs of the inhabitants of Gaza.”
The military spokesperson showed one of the tunnel entrances and several meters of its interior to a small group of media, including EFE, over the weekend.
Within the hidden structure, concealed under the sand, lies the magnitude and solidity of the project, which took years to build.
The tunnel played a critical role in orchestrating the attack on Israeli soil, resulting in more than 1,200 casualties and 240 people being kidnapped.
He said it was Yahya Sinwar’s best-kept secret that has been uncovered, referring to the head of the Islamist Hamas group and his alleged involvement in the Oct. 7 attack—the deadliest militant strike in Israel and the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
Israel claims that Yahya Sinwar’s brother, Mohamed Sinwar, led and supervised the construction of the tunnel.
Videos recorded by the group, discovered during the Israeli Army’s ground offensive in the enclave, show Mohamed Sinwar in a vehicle inside the tunnel, providing insight into the scale of the project.
The leaflets dropped by the Israeli air force over Gaza and Khan Younis offer financial rewards for information about senior Hamas commanders.
The reward for information leading to Yahya Sinwar is $400,000, while his brother, commanding the southern brigade of the al-Qasam Brigades, has a bounty of $300,000.
Hagari pledged to “defeat” Hamas and dismantle its entire tunnel infrastructure, believing that top militant commanders, including the Sinwar brothers, are hiding inside these hidden burrows.
It is also suspected that some of the 129 hostages are still held captive within the enclave, with around 20 estimated to have already died, maybe in these tunnels.
He said it would take time to defeat Hamas, vowing to hunt down the Sinwars and the militants who participated in the attack on Israel.
“We will hunt the terrorists of Oct. 7 above the ground and under ground. We will hunt them down. We have no other alternative. We have two missions in this war: destroy Hamas and rescue our hostages,” said Hagari.
The Israeli army claimed to have discovered weapons inside the tunnel, which is part of Hamas’s extensive hidden passageway network, equipped with reinforced concrete, electricity, ventilation, sewage, communications, and roads for vehicle traffic.
The army stressed that since the ground offensive on the strip began on Oct. 27, soldiers have discovered numerous tunnels, including those beneath hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure.
The Shifa hospital in Gaza City, for instance, was besieged and attacked for over 10 days, leading to the displacement of more than 1,000 wounded and displaced people.
According to the Israeli military, the discovery of the entrance of the tunnel, with a diameter of over three meters, was made in a large hole dug by Israeli troops on the surface, just 400 meters from the Erez crossing, connecting the north of the strip with Israel.