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Israeli military says carried out Gaza operation against tunnel

Israeli forces on Sunday knocked out a tunnel in the Gaza Strip dug allegedly to mount cross-border attacks, the military said.

The tunnel had been cut off during the 2014 Gaza war. According to an Israeli military spokesman, Hamas had tried to put it back into operation. It had been dug inside besieged enclave several hundred metres away from Israel's border fence.

The Israeli forces did not cross the border to render the tunnel inoperable but used a new technique, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

"We did not use explosives. It (the tunnel) was filled with a certain material, with a certain compound," Conricus said.

A spokesman for Hamas, the dominant Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip, said the military was "marketing fake achievements" to boost the morale of soldiers and Israelis living near the enclave.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but still maintains tight control of its land and sea borders, and routinely carries out air strikes. Also citing security concerns, Egypt keeps its border with Gaza largely closed.

During the 2014 war, Hamas fighters used dozens of tunnels to blindside Israel's superior forces. Since then, Israel has been working on advanced counter-measures including a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, a $1.1 billion project it aims to complete by mid-2019.

"On the basis of quality intelligence and groundbreaking technology, Israel is destroying tunnels one-by-one," Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.

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 neighbouring Egypt.

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