(IDF Spokesman)
IDF tunnel

The IDF is prepared for a possible further escalation in the situation on the border, as Hamas may intensify its attacks on Israel.

The IDF on Thursday announced it has uncovered another deep-running Hamas terror tunnel extending into Israel, the second such tunnel to be exposed in the past month.

The tunnel was uncovered as part of extensive counter terror efforts by the IDF and Israel’s security agencies that have been underway since Operation Protective Edge.

“This tunnel was built by Hamas in order to infiltrate Israel and execute terror attacks against the people of southern communities. The IDF will continue its counter terror activities to uncover and neutralize Hamas’ offensive tunnels,” the IDF said in a statement.

In the past two days, Hamas has carried out several mortar attacks against forces operating in the area to expose the tunnel, the first time they have done so in almost two years. Israel’s Air Force (IAF) responded by bombing Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

In its latest attack, Hamas fired five mortar shells at IDF positions on Thursday afternoon. IDF forces responded by firing tank rounds at Hamas targets. No Israelis were wounded in the attack.

“We stay committed to safeguarding the people of southern Israel while Hamas is committed to violence and terror. No one should be living in fear of being attacked in their home by terrorists infiltrating from underground,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner stated.

hamas terror tunnel

Inside a terror tunnel. (AP/Jack Guez, Pool)

“The IDF is determined to maintain the safety and stability of the area and will continue to use all means necessary to target Hamas’ terror activities,” he added.

This is the second tunnel the IDF has exposed since the last war with Hamas in the summer of 2014. There are expected to be more such tunnels which have yet to be discovered.

Hamas has built a sophisticated network of tunnels that it has used to penetrate Israel to carry out terrorist attacks on civilians and soldiers and smuggle goods and weapons in and out of Gaza through the Sinai Peninsula.

The IDF destroyed most of the tunnels during Operation Protective Edge, but Hamas has since been working vigorously to rebuild the network which they use for military build-up, many times at the expense of innocent Gazans from whom they steal building materials.

Speaking in February, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that the IDF’s number one mission is to counter the threat posed by Hamas’ attack tunnels emanating from Gaza.

Eisenkot said destroying this network is the IDF’s top priority for 2016, adding that it is not deceived by the relative quiet along the Israel-Gaza border.

The IDF is prepared for a possible further escalation in the situation on the border, as Hamas may intensify its attacks on Israel as it fears to lose more tunnels, their premium strategic weapon against Israel after Israel has mostly neutralized its rocket threat with the Iron Dome defense system.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel