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Hamas claims responsibility for large terror tunnel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas claimed responsibility for a terror tunnel dug between Gaza and Israel.

A spokesman for Hamas’ military wing said Sunday during an interview on one of the terrorist movement’s radio stations that the group was responsible for building and maintaining the tunnel, Reuters reported.

The 1.5-mile-long tunnel began in the Absan village located between Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip and the Gaza border fence and had more than one exit point in and around Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, including near a kindergarten, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

It is believed to have been constructed to kidnap civilians and soldiers, or to infiltrate the community and carry out a terror attack.

The Hamas spokesman said the tunnel had been dug in an effort to force Israel to release some of the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails. Former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and brought into Gaza through such a tunnel in 2006. More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were released in a prisoner exchange for Shalit.

The tunnel was reinforced with steel and cement provided by Israel to build public buildings in Gaza, which Israel had been withholding as part of its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel allowed the delivery to resume in 2010.

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