newsIsrael at War

Hamas command center found under cemetery Israel accused of desecrating

Inside the tunnel, the IDF found an office from which a Hamas Khan Yunis Brigade battalion commander managed the attack on Oct. 7

Israeli soldiers in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza Strip, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israeli soldiers in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza Strip, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israeli soldiers discovered an underground tunnel running beneath a cemetery in Khan Yunis, the Israel Defense Forces said on Monday.

The tunnel was located directly below the Bani Suheila cemetery by troops from the IDF’s 98th Division. Bani Suheila was one of several cemeteries the army was accused of desecrating in recent Western media reports.

“While investigating the tunnel, the forces came across explosives, sliding doors and blast-proof doors, and eliminated terrorists who were inside,” the IDF statement said.

The route of the tunnel crossing under the Bani Suheila cemetery in Khan Yunis, as seen from a drone. Source: IDF/YouTube.

“Inside the tunnel route, the forces located an office from which a Khan Yunis Brigade battalion commander managed the attack on October 7, an operations room, a command and control center, and the living quarters of senior officials of the Hamas terrorist organization. The tunnel was also used by Hamas to command their attacks against IDF forces both above and below ground.”

The IDF said the shaft was one kilometer long and 20 meters below the cemetery, adding that it was part of a larger underground network.

Combat engineers destroyed the tunnel.

Inside the destroyed tunnel. Source: IDF/YouTube.

In mid-January, the IDF confirmed it was operating in cemeteries where intelligence indicated that the bodies of Israeli hostages may have been buried.

“The IDF conducts precise hostage rescue operations in the specific locations where information indicates that the bodies of hostages may be located,” the army said in a statement to NBC News at the time. “The hostage identification process, conducted at a secure and alternative location, ensures optimal professional conditions and respect for the deceased. Bodies determined not to be those of hostages are returned with dignity and respect.”

The military’s statement added, “If not for Hamas’s reprehensible decision to take Israeli men, women, children and babies hostage, the need for such searches for our hostages would not exist.”

Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second-largest city, is regarded as a personal stronghold of Hamas leader in the Strip Yahya Sinwar, whose family lives there. Ground forces recently completed their encirclement of the city.

Around 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women and children held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 136, although some of them have been murdered while in captivity.

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