The Israel Defense Forces revealed on Sunday the discovery of the largest Hamas attack tunnel found to date, located in the northern Gaza Strip close to the Erez border crossing.
The military uncovered four kilometers (2.5 miles) of the tunnel, which reached a depth of 50 meters (165 feet) in some sections.
The tunnel did not stretch into Israeli territory, but one of its shafts was found a mere 400 meters (about 440 yards) from the Erez Crossing, the only pedestrian entry between Israel and the Strip.
The tunnel has several branches and junctions, replete with plumbing, electricity and communication lines, the IDF said.
The military said vehicles could pass through the gaping subterranean structure, and that weapons belonging to Hamas were found inside.
The effort to construct the tunnel was led by Muhammad Sinwar, the commander of Hamas’s Southern Brigade and a brother of Yahya Sinwar, the terrorist group’s leader in Gaza, the army said.
Dozens of Hamas terrorists had relocated from Khan Yunis to northern Gaza to work on the project, which included materials never previously seen in the tunnel system, the IDF added.
The terrorists used special digging machines that were smuggled into the Strip for the project, which the military estimates cost millions of dollars.
Last week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant toured the massive tunnel with Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld and the head of the Combat Engineering Corps’ elite Yahalom unit, which is largely responsible for uncovering and destroying Hamas’s tunnel network.
“Hamas has persistently and deliberately invested enormous amounts of money and resources into terrorist tunnels that serve only one purpose—attacking the State of Israel and its residents,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht on Sunday.
“This strategic attack tunnel network was intentionally dug near a crossing dedicated to the movement of Gazans into Israel for work and medical care. For Hamas, attacking the people of Israel continues to take priority over supporting the people of Gaza,” he added.
In 2022, more than 800,000 Gazan residents crossed into Israel via the Erez Crossing, and in the first half of this year, 550,000 did the same.
The crossing supported the passage of some 18,500 Palestinians in Gaza with Israeli work permits. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 Gaza residents with medical permits entered Israel via Erez to receive treatment in 2022. Another 5,000 received medical permits in the first half of 2023.
Kerem Shalom, a separate crossing near the borders of Israel, Gaza and Egypt, is used for commercial deliveries to the Strip.
Earlier this month, the IDF announced that forces had located more than 800 underground tunnel shafts and destroyed around 500 of them since the start of the war on Oct. 7.
The IDF said that its ground offensive in Gaza, which was launched on Oct. 27 after Hamas’s massacre of 1,200 people in Israel, had provided “a lot of information” about the Palestinian terrorist group’s expansive tunnel system.