Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating in the heart of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza discovered a large tunnel, one where Hamas had held a around a dozen hostages, the military revealed on Wednesday.
Troops from the IDF’s 98th Division, working alongside combat engineers from the elite Yahalom unit, located the approximately 1,000-yard-long tunnel while exploring an underground labyrinth composed of numerous branches.
On Jan. 21, the IDF announced that the 98th Division unearthed and destroyed a nearby tunnel branch of similar size. There, some 20 hostages had been kept in a central chamber that included five prison cells.
The newly-discovered tunnel likewise contained a chamber that included barred prison cells, as well as bathrooms and a space used by Hamas guards. The IDF noted that three of the approximately 12 hostages who were kept in the newly discovered Khan Yunis tunnel have since “returned to Israel.”
As part of the operation, 98th Division and Yahalom troops “fought in the tunnel against terrorists, broke through the blast doors and neutralized explosives,” the military said, adding that forces also seized weapons and documents related to Hamas operations.
[The Jewish News Syndicate Report continues]
One hundred five hostages, mostly women and children, were released last year as part of a ceasefire deal that Hamas broke when it refused to hand over the last group of captives.
Last month, the Times reported that Hamas’s tunnel network was more extensive than previously thought, with new assessments indicating it has upwards of 5,700 entry shafts.
Following intensive combat in Khan Yunis during recent weeks, Israel now believes Hamas built between 350 and 450 miles of subterranean terror infrastructure, up from a previous estimate of 250 miles.
The IDF has damaged or rendered inoperable some 20% to 40% of Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure in Gaza, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Jan. 28 that cited Israeli and U.S. officials.
View this Jewish News Syndicate Report from February 7th