Israel says foiled Hamas bid to rebuild Gaza tunnel

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Authorities were still investigating whether the incident was an attack or an accident

However, later on Sunday in a phone call, a second IDF spokesperson refused to repeat the statement that Hamas militants had recently operated in the tunnel.

No casualties were reported in either incident, the latter of which came after a bomb was detonated near the Gaza border with Israel, the latest in a string of such incidents.

Israel last went public with an operation against a Gaza tunnel in the area in January, saying that the secret passage had also run through neighboring Egypt.

"This is an underground infrastructure that had not yet penetrated into Israel, which Hamas has been digging in recent days to allow for this", the IDF spokesman said, adding that the attack was deep inside the Gaza Strip.

Hamas praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.

The tunnel was several hundred meters from Israel's border fence, near the Gazan city of Rafah, but Israeli military forces did not cross into Gaza to destroy it.

The Israeli forces did not cross the border to render the tunnel inoperable but used a new technique, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters. "I suggest Hamas invest its money in the welfare of the people of Gaza because by the end of the year its entire tunnel project will be destroyed". The attempt to rebuild the tunnel shows that Hamas finds it hard to accept the collapse of the tunnel project and continues to waste the money needed for Gaza residents to breathe, ' Manelis stated.

"It was a subterranean complex, a military complex", said Cornicus, the Israeli military spokesman. It was not clear if the tunnel in the video was among those destroyed Sunday.

Also on February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.

'The continuous Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip and targeting the resistance sites is a pre-emptive Israeli attempt to destabilise the enclave and terrorise its residents in order to undermine the Great March or Return and Breaking the Siege, ' the statement read.

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