Destroying the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route means cutting off Gaza terror's lifeline, military sources told Ynet Sunday.
Earlier, IAF fighter jets targeted the smuggling tunnels along the Israeli-Egyptian border. The strike was under four-minutes long, added the sources, but it took months to plan.
Destroying the tunnels was one of Operation Cast Lead's objectives. The tunnels, used to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Gaza escaped any major strike for the entirety of the ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza, as well as for several months prior to it.
"We know that the terror activity was flourishing underground through hundreds of tunnels, but we didn’t get the green light to target them," said a military source.
Military Intelligence, however, was gathering strategic information about the location and specifications of the tunnels, in order to allow for a precise strike when the order would be given.
The Gaza terror groups mastered the art of concealing the tunnels, building their entry and exit ways in various facilities and buildings, some built specifically for that purpose.
The strike on the Philadelphi Route tunnels was outlined within operational plans prepared by Southern Command Chief Major-General Yoav Galant, the Shin Bet and the Israeli Air Force.
The Egyptians were briefed on the upcoming operation and warned to pull any army personnel out of the area.
The strike itself lasted only minutes, as the IAF dropped dozens of precision bombs on 40 tunnels. Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited the area at nightfall and was briefed on the day's activities.
The IDF said that while rebuilding the tunnels would surly take months, writing off the entire tunnel industry would be unwise: "The objective is seriously diminish Hamas' capabilities. Patience must be exercised since there are many tunnels and other targets we have yet to hit," said a source.
"The IDF has yet to inflict its full force. One thing is clear, we are working to change the reality in the area."