JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli forces have found 800 wells leading to a vast network of tunnels and bunkers belonging to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) since the start of the ground operation in Gaza on October 27, and have destroyed more than half of them, the Israeli military said on Sunday.
The Palestinian Islamic Movement said before the eight-week war in the Gaza Strip that it had hundreds of kilometers of tunnels – a network similar in size to New York’s subway system – for protection and to serve as operating bases.
This has made them prime targets for Israeli air strikes with penetrating munitions and army engineers use mapping robots and explosive gels that can be poured into the corridors.
“The tunnel openings were located in civilian areas, and many of them were near or inside civilian buildings and facilities, such as schools, kindergartens, mosques, and playgrounds,” the army said in a statement on Sunday.
The statement, which summarizes anti-tunnel operations to date, followed almost daily accounts to the media by forces who said they had discovered access holes in civilian sites.
The war’s human toll has increasingly alarmed world powers. Washington urged Israel to be cautious on Saturday.
The military said that of the approximately 800 wells discovered, 500 were destroyed using a variety of operational methods, including “blast and shut-in.” She added that “several miles” of major tunnel routes were also destroyed.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinowitz; Editing by Angus MacSwan)