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Israel finds Gazan 'terror tunnel'

| Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 8:12 p.m.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said on Sunday that it discovered a concrete-lined tunnel dug from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel, alleging militants planned to use it to attack or kidnap Israelis.

The tunnel led from a house to a site close to a kibbutz, Ein Hashlosha, and could have been used to carry out attacks on civilians.

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, saying on his official Twitter account that “thousands” more tunnels would be dug.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the discovery of what he described as the “terror tunnel” was “further proof that Hamas continues to prepare for confrontation with Israel and for carrying out terror attacks, if it feels it is possible.”

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 a little more than one mile and appears to have been recently dug and in use until its discovery last week.

“The tunnel is extremely advanced and well prepared” Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, commander of Gaza Strip division, told reporters. “Massive amount of concrete and cement have been used to build this tunnel.”

Military officials said it opened about 600 feet inside Israeli territory and had two exits in an open area.

The military invited journalists into the tunnel, dug 60 feet underground and nearly six feet high. Electrical cords lined the concrete walls. Empty food wrappers included one dated June 2013, indicating that someone had been inside in recent months.

The military waited a week to publicize the discovery because a search for explosives was under way.

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