The IDF on Tuesday announced it had pinpointed a terror tunnel dug from the Gaza Strip that stretched dozens of meters into Israeli territory.
The tunnel, likely belonging to one of the Palestinian enclave's terrorist groups, was found to extend from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis to Kibbutz Kissufim in the northern Negev.
The military said it successfully located the tunnel after being notified of the threat by a nearly-complete underground barrier system tasked with locating and blocking tunnels stretching from the Hamas-ruled territory into Israeli soil.
The IDF has sealed off roads and agricultural areas leading to and around the Gaza Strip on Monday, setting up roadblocks and checkpoints to block all outgoing and ingoing traffic in the area.
While the IDF stated it was conducting an "engineering operation" in the vicinity of the security barrier with Gaza, It did not specify the exact nature of the operation, adding additional details will be revealed shortly.
"IDF engineering forces operated in the area of the fence and located the terror tunnel following an indication received from an underground barrier system on the Gaza Strip border whose construction is nearly complete,” an IDF statement read. “The terrorist organization Hamas is charge in and out of the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens."
The tunnel, reportedly, was only dug recently and was not one of 20 terror tunnels used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and destroyed by the IDF during the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014.
The military added that the tunnel did not breach Israel’s underground barrier and posed no real threat to Israeli communities in the area. It is set to complete its investigation of the tunnel in the coming days before sealing it completely.
"We have yet to affiliate this tunnel with any organization, but to us, Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip,” said IDF spokesman Brigadier General Hidai Zilberman.
"We have seen that in recent years, tunneling has taken center stage among terrorist organizations. In this tunnel specifically, they have invested a lot of money instead of directing it to the welfare of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
Zilberman stressed that there was no link between the IDF's unusual choice to not respond to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Friday and the investigation of the tunnel, which was only discovered on Sunday.
Following the alarming discovery, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "we continue to act resolutely on all fronts for the security of Israel and against any attempt to harm our sovereignty or our citizens."