The military wing of Hamas on Monday claimed responsibility for a tunnel built under the border between Gaza and Israel.
“This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of (Izzadine) al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers,” the group’s spokesman Abu Obeida told Hamas’s al-Aqsa radio.
“We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the prisoners (held by Israel),” he said.
“Kidnapping soldiers is the only way to succeed against the (Israeli) occupation.”
Israeli officials last Sunday said troops had uncovered a tunnel running from Gaza 450 meters into Israel and allegedly intended as a springboard for attacks.
In June 2006 a group of Hamas and other fighters entered into Israel through a cross-border tunnel and seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
He was released on October 18, 2011 in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Israel froze shipments of building materials to the Gaza Strip after discovering the underground tunnel last week.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.
The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.
The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
(Ma’an and Agencies – www.maannews.net)