JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Thursday it discovered and destroyed a Hamas tunnel dug out from Gaza into Israeli territory, the 15th such tunnel threat it has thwarted over the past year.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was 1 kilometer (about half mile) in length, stretching from the southern Gaza region of Khan Younis and penetrating 200 meters (yards) into Israel.
Israel has placed a high priority on eliminating the tunnels since Hamas gunmen infiltrated Israel during the 2014 war. Although they never managed to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations caught Israel off guard, with one attack killing five soldiers and terrifying the local population.
Israel has since begun building an underground barrier and has boasted of deploying sophisticated technology that has helped it discover the tunnels more quickly.
Conricus said the military had been tracking the latest tunnel for months. He called it a high-quality, "complex tunnel system with various connections and branches."
Hamas, which rarely comments on specific Israeli strikes on the Islamic militant group's infrastructure, made no comments.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the military said a Palestinians stabbed an Israeli soldier, a reservist, moderately wounding him. Other troops on the scene opened fire, but the assailant fled the scene. A civilian bystander was lightly wounded.
Earlier this week, a Palestinian attacker opened fire inside a West Bank industrial zone where Israelis and Palestinians work together, killing two Israelis and seriously wounding a third before also fleeing the scene.
A massive manhunt is still underway for the attacker, identified as Ashraf Na'alwa, and several of his relatives have been arrested for questioning.
The attacker killed 28-year-old Kim Yehezkel, a mother of an infant son, and Ziv Hajbi, a 35-year-old father of three.
Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces have killed over 260 Palestinians in that same period; Israel has described most of those killed as attackers.