The IDF on Tuesday uncovered an underground tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip towards Israel,
the army said Wednesday. The tunnel shaft was connected to a Gaza hothouse used to grow tomatoes and situated 700 meters from the border fence.
The tunnel was detonated in a controlled manner by the IDF on Wednesday evening.
Army officials believe that a terror attack had been foiled by uncovering the tunnel. According to estimates, Palestinians planned to use the tunnel in order to smuggle explosives and bomb them under an Israeli military or civilian target.
The IDF was also looking into the possibility that the tunnel was slated to be used to smuggle terrorists into Israel.
The tunnel was uncovered after the army received military intelligence. A generator which had apparently been used to assist in the dig was also found in the area.
Tunnel shaft in Gaza hothouse (Photo: IDF's Spokesperon's Office)
Southern Command officials estimated that terror organizations continue to dig different tunnels from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, using technological means.
"It is possible such tunnels are already ready and that terror activists are waiting to receive an order to use them. We must not forget that (IDF soldiers) Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by terrorists who entered Israel through a tunnel.
"The uncovering of the tunnel in the northern Strip illustrates just how important the military activity near the fence in recent months is and how significant it is in thwarting terror attacks," army officials said.
Military sources in the Southern Command said after the tunnel was uncovered that "every operation in the Palestinian territory has added value. We get to know the area better, we question people, we collect information, and this eventually leads to operational achievements."
The sources stressed that the activity taking place across the Gaza Strip was not aimed at preventing Hamas from becoming stronger, but rather at foiling planned terror attacks.
Military officials admitted that the uncovering of the tunnel was not surprising and that additional tunnels may be waiting in the area, some of them hidden under buildings, hothouses or other facilities.
The IDF top brass is well aware of the fact that the tunnels in Gaza constitute one of the most complex fields of terror. Tunnels which began as a means to smuggle weapons from Egypt to the Strip have become in the past few years a tool in the hands of terror organizations.
Army officials explain that a terror attack via a tunnel could have strategic ramifications, and therefore a lot of effort is exerted into uncovering such tunnels.
"The uncovering of a tunnel is a very complicated and requires great effort on different levels. These days we are continuing in our attempts to uncover additional tunnels and are certain that such tunnels exist in different places across the country," the sources said.