Hamas-built tunnel found leading from Gaza into Israel
The Israeli military said it had discovered a concrete-lined tunnel dug from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel and has alleged that militants planned to use it to attack or kidnap Israelis.
In response, the military froze the transfer of all construction materials to the Palestinian territory, the army said.
A Hamas military spokesman in Gaza, Abu Obeida, was defiant over the tunnel discovery, saying on his official Twitter account that "thousands" more tunnels would be dug out.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for six years, has dug tunnels into Israel in the past. In 2006, a year before seizing power, Hamas-allied militants sneaked into Israel through one such tunnel, killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped a third, holding him hostage in Gaza for five years.
According to the Israeli military, the latest tunnel stretches 1.7km and appears to have been recently dug and in use until its discovery last week.
"The tunnel is extremely advanced and well prepared", Brigadier General Mickey Edelstein, commander of Gaza Strip division, told reporters.
"Massive amounts of concrete and cement have been used to build this tunnel."
Military officials said it opened some 180m inside Israeli territory and had two exits in an open area. The exits were roughly one mile from an Israeli communal village, making Israeli civilians potential targets.
The military said it was the third tunnel found along the Gaza border fence in the past year.