Israeli soldier lightly wounded in massive tunnel explosion near Gaza

(JTA) — Palestinian militants set off explosive charges in a tunnel near Gaza’s border with Israel after Israeli soldiers discovered the bombs during a patrol.

According to NRG, the website of the daily Maariv, the patrol was setting up a perimeter fence around the explosive devices on Thursday when they were set off, possibly by remote control. One soldier suffered very minor injuries, NRG said.

The devices were inside a tunnel 4 meters — about 13 feet — below the ground, one that was “particularly wide in diameter,” it said. Hundreds of pounds of explosives were detonated in the blast, according to the report.

IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said in a news conference that the blast was “very large,” leaving a 4- to 5-meter crater.

“It was a very big tunnel, of the likes we haven’t seen in a long time,” Mordechai said.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the patrol’s jeep was overturned by the force of the explosion.   

The NRG report said that a similar tunnel was used in the attack on the Kerem Shalom military position in June 2006, in which militants penetrated Israel and abducted Gilad Shalit, who was released earlier this year in a prisoner exchange.

The tunnel discovered on Thursday had no opening on the Israeli side of the fence, according to the report.

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