IDF destroys ‘longest and deepest’ Hamas cross-border attack tunnel

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…As Macron says he convinced Trump not to pull out troops***

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced it destroyed a sophisticated Hamas attack tunnel, leading from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, over the weekend.

The tunnel was the “longest and deepest” underground passage discovered in Israel thus far, according to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

It passed under the border in an area where Palestinian protesters have recently clashed with security forces, the army said, and was ready for use.

A military spokesman said the tunnel was dug by the Hamas terrorist group and was connected to a “kilometers-long” network of other passages under the Gaza Strip.

The tunnel reached “tens of meters” into Israeli territory in the area of the northern Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli community of Nahal Oz, the army said. It was constructed after the 50-day 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the IDF.

It was detected using new technologies and methods that the IDF has deployed against the terror tunnel threat and was disarmed over the weekend, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

“This was clearly a terror tunnel that connected to other tunnels in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “It extended into Israel and violated Israeli sovereignty.”

Security forces had been monitoring this tunnel network, which had been under construction for years, the spokesman said. The decision was taken to destroy the tunnel once it crossed into Israeli territory, he added.

Palestinian tunnel diggers were working their way up to the surface to construct an exit within Israeli territory when the army decided to act.

The tunnel was sealed up rather then being bombed, and the sealing material was estimated to extend deep into the underground network on the Gaza side, rendering sections of connecting tunnels useless, the spokesman said.

He did not say if there were any Palestinian injuries during the process to seal the tunnel.

It was the fifth tunnel extending into Israel from Gaza that the IDF has destroyed in recent months, he noted.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has said he convinced US President Donald Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria and instead commit “for the long term”.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump declared that the US would “be coming out of Syria very soon”.

On Saturday, joint US, UK and French strikes targeted Syrian government sites in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Mr Macron said he also persuaded Mr Trump to keep the strikes limited.

The pair, who are reported to have a friendly relationship, spoke multiple times in the days before the military action was taken.

After Mr Macron’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “The US mission has not changed – the president has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible”.

But she added that the US was “determined to completely crush” the Islamic State group and prevent its return.

The US has about 2,000 personnel on the ground in eastern Syria supporting an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Times of Israel