Hamas’ Gaza tunnels at least 350 miles long: officials

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webnexttech | Hamas' Gaza tunnels at least 350 miles long: officials
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Hamas’ sinister network of tunnels underneath the Gaza Strip may be over 350 miles long – or hundreds of miles more than initial estimates, sources said this week.The tunnels may run for anywhere between 350 to 450 miles, and boast a staggering 5,700 entrance shafts, senior Israeli officials told The New York Times.
The new estimates – which could not be confirmed – are over 100 miles longer than the original numbers, which placed the tunnel network at around 250 miles long, the outlet noted.
The tunnels’ vastness is “extraordinary” given that Gaza’s longest point only stretches about 25 miles, the Times said.
“Hamas has used the time and resources over the last 15 years to turn Gaza into a fortress,” Aaron Greenstone, a former C.I.A. officer who has worked extensively in the Middle East, told the outlet.
There about 100 miles of the tunnels are located underneath Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where Israeli troops are currently focusing their most intensive efforts as they scour the area for Hamas’ military leader, Yahya Sinwar, the anonymous officials explained.
Hamas budgeted $1 million for tunnel doors and underground workshops in Khan Younis alone, one 2022 document showed.
Hamas’ tunnels have played a central role in Israel’s ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, which started after the terror group slaughtered about 1,200 people and kidnapped around 240 more on Oct 7.
There are believed to be about 130 hostages left in Gaza – many of whom are suspected to be held somewhere in the vast tunnel network.
Thanks to new intelligence gathered during the campaign, the IDF can now quickly detect a single tunnel – a task they previously took up to a year, one anonymous official told the Times.
Some of the crucial information was found on the computers of Hamas operatives who were involved in digging the tunnels, as well as a list of families that “hosted” the tunnel shafts underneath their homes, the insider said.
The IDF has also arrived at a “triangle” system that helped them determine that they are likely to find tunnels below areas with schools, hospitals, or mosques.
The military has also determined two different types of shafts, including one used by operatives and one used by commanders, the Times said.
The commander tunnels are deeper and more comfortable, and allow for longer stays underground.
One soldier, speaking to the Times on the condition of anonymity, said he oversaw the destruction of about 50 booty-trapped tunnels in Beit Hanoun.
The shafts had bombs hidden in the walls and even a large explosive that was hard-wired to be activated remotely, he added.
On Jan.
8, Israeli soldiers took a group of journalists to see three tunnel shafts in central Gaza – including one inside a single-story farm building on the outskirts of Bureij and two others inside a civilian steelworks and a nearby shed.
The shaft inside the steelworks descended about 30 years and even had a kind of elevator, the Times reported.
The tunnel was used to transport munitions that were molded in the steelworks, the Israeli soldiers said.
A nearby bucket of shells or rocket heads were modeled off a template of US-made mortar shells, they added.
Inside the shed, Hamas appeared to have stored 10 large rockets that the soldiers said had a range of about 60 miles.
The logo for Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam brigades, was emblazoned on a wall of the tunnel.
The third tunnel shaft beneath the farm building was concealed behind a locked door that had been blown off its hinges, the Times said.
Despite major progress over just a few months, officials cautioned that disabling the entire tunnel network could take years, and soldiers work to map out each shaft and its incumbent traps and other risks.

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