Arms smuggling tunnel found in Gaza
Since Tuesday, IDF forces have uncovered 13 tunnels under the Philadelphi Route used to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt in a major operation aimed at foiling the illegal arming of terrorist forces in Gaza.
The tunnels were all discovered under a 300 meter stretch of the border route separating Gaza and Egypt, and are all similar to the tunnels the IDF has seen when Israel was still in control of the border.
(VIDEO) IDF forces operating near Philadelphi Route in southern Strip uncover five weapons smuggling tunnels. Army: More extensive operation will be needed to decrease threat from south Gaza
Lt. Colonel Yossi Drory of the Givati infantry brigade said that most of the tunnels are operational and are designed to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza.
Other than an isolated incident Wednesday when two gunmen had approached the force and were shot and killed, the operation, dubbed "Squeezed Fruit," is said to be going smoothly. During the day, IDF forces were busy destroying the tunnels they had uncovered, and searching for other tunnels in the area.
Tunnels dug from within homes
Lt. Colonel Drory added that "the tunnels are often dug from within homes or agricultural areas. When we asked the owners of the homes, they denied there are any tunnels present, but a search of the homes revealed the tunnel shafts."
Some of the tunnels which were unearthed were a result of intelligence information given to the IDF from the Shin Bet, and some are a result of the searches conducted by the soldiers.
Due to the recent findings, the estimation is that the IDF will expand their efforts in the area and along the Philadelphi Route. IDF sources estimate that there may be hundreds of tunnels under the route, with Lt. Colonel Drory referring to the findings as a "construction boom" because according to him, a tunnel shaft is discovered every few meters in the frame of the current operation.
Since the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, 25 tunnels were discovered, most of them used to smuggle weapons, and some to conduct attacks against Israel like the tunnel used for the attack in which Shalit was abducted and two other IDF soldiers were killed.
IDF sources say that since the kidnapping of Shalit and the realization that the tunnel problem is becoming a real threat, Israel has stepped up its operations in the Gaza strip, killing 270 terrorists, and that the activities are due to intensify.
UN figures, however paint a different picture. The UN special envoy to the Middle east Alvaro Desoto said on Thursday that since the kidnapping, 295 Palestinians were killed by IDF forces, including 66 children.