Israel struggles to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network, report says

Image: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/REUTERS

About 80% of Hamas’ tunnels under Gaza are still intact after weeks of Israeli efforts to destroy them, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that cited US and Israeli officials.

Hindering Hamas’ ability to use tunnels is at the center of Israel’s efforts to capture the group’s top leaders and rescue the remaining Israeli hostages. 

Some hostages are being held in a command center in a tunnel under Khan Younis, Israeli officials claimed, according to the US newspaper.

The report cited a senior Israeli military official as saying Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, is also hiding in the same location. Israel, Germany, the United States and several other countries have designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

An operation on that command center could endanger the hostages, former Israeli officials and military analysts told the WSJ.  

The official told the WSJ that the approach of Israel’s forces was focused on clearing “nodes” within the tunnels where Hamas leaders and fighters are hiding rather than checking or destroying the entire system.

Hamas’ network of an estimated 1,300 tunnels is thought to be around 500 kilometers (310 miles) long. 

Some tunnels are as deep as 70 meters (230 feet) underground. 

Reports have said that most of the tunnels are just two meters high and two meters wide.

Courtesy of DW