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Hamas blamed for tunnel underneath Israel's Gaza border

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Denouncing the structure as a "terror tunnel," Israel denounced a Palestinian underground passageway running into its territory from the Gaza Strip. Blaming Hamas, the Israeli government said it was subsequently freezing the transfer of building material to the enclave.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The discovery of the tunnel ... prevented attempts to harm Israeli civilians who live close to the border and military forces in the area," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement. Gaza's ruling Hamas Islamist movement is being accused in the construction of the 1.5 mile-long tunnel.

A spokesman for Hamas' armed wing wrote on Twitter declared that "the determination deep in the hearts and minds of resistance fighters is more important than tunnels dug in the mud." No group has come forward to claim responsibility.

Hamas and other groups tunneled into Israel in 2006 and seized an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years before being exchanged for 1,400 Palestinians in Israeli jails.

The tunnel was discovered underneath a fortified Gaza border last week near a kibbutz, or communal farm, according to the Israeli military. Journalists were invited to view the structure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who launched an eight-day war against militants in the Gaza Strip last November  publicly congratulated the army "for uncovering the terror tunnel."

Dug in sandy soil, the tunnel had been reinforced with concrete supports. Yaalon announced that he was immediately halting the transfer of building material to the Gaza Strip.

Israel has long refused to allow these materials into the territory because it said militants would use them to build fortifications and weapons.

As part of its easing of its internationally-criticized Gaza blockade, Israel gave foreign aid organizations in 2010 the green light to import construction material for public projects. Israel resumed the transfer of cement and steel to Gaza's private sector last month.

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