Hamas spent tens of millions of dollars, which was intended for the Gaza Strip, building underground terrorist infrastructure, the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday evening, citing intelligence findings.
Hamas “opted to invest precious resources in building terrorist infrastructure used to harm Israeli civilians and IDF forces, while cynically exploiting the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” the military said.
An analysis of tunnel shafts discovered since the start of Israel’s ground operation in the coastal enclave last year shows that Hamas diverted at least 6,000 tons of concrete and 1,800 tons of metal to build “hundreds of kilometers” of underground infrastructure, added the statement.
The IDF’s search for terror tunnels is aided by a trove of intelligence seized by soldiers, including 65 million digital files and half a million physical documents, the IDF said late last year.
In some cases, soldiers found large sacks belonging to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The sacks were filled with sand, possibly intended to stabilize tunnels before concrete layers were added.
In a seven-minute video summary of the first three months of its military offensive, the IDF noted that “with the outbreak of the war, representatives from Israel, the United States, Egypt and the United Nations convened to create a large-scale humanitarian aid operation focused on maximizing the amount of aid transported into Gaza.”
“Israel is fully committed to facilitating and supporting all humanitarian efforts by the international community, while working to free the Israeli hostages and dismantle Hamas, and with it, bring hope for a better future for the people of the Middle East,” per the video.
Earlier on Thursday, the IDF said it expanded its operations in the southern Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in the past 24 hours, exposing a vast tunnel network used by the terrorist group to hold hostages.
“The tunnel was connected to an extensive underground tunnel network beneath a civilian area in the city,” the army said. “Millions of shekels are estimated to have been invested in excavating the tunnel and equipping it with air ventilation systems, electrical supply and plumbing.”
Following an investigation, the IDF confirmed that some Israeli hostages had been held captive in the tunnel. They were held in cages, some 60 feet underground, per a CNN report that cited Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, commander of the IDF’s 98th Division.
During his daily press briefing on Thursday evening, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesman, switched to English, as he addressed the plight of the 136 hostages still held by terrorist organizations in the Strip.
“We will never let the world forget the hostages being held by Hamas since Oct. 7. ‘Never again’ is our call to action. Because ‘Never again’ is now,” Hagari told reporters.
“It is important to remember that we are fighting a just war like no other—a war that the enemy started by choice and knowingly, during which he committed crimes against humanity and cruel acts that the Western world has not seen for decades,” he added.
Some 3,200 Israeli troops serving in Gaza have required treatment in the field by IDF Medical Corps soldiers, the army said on Thursday, noting that more than 400 nurses, 53 of whom are women, are participating in the ground operation, as of last week.
IDF medics applied at least 470 combat tourniquets, gave 60,150 units of blood and approximately 100 plasma transfusions, in addition to evacuating hundreds of soldiers, the IDF said.