Jerusalem, November 9 (IANS) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Thursday claimed that it has destroyed entrances of 130 Hamas tunnels in Gaza since the militant group waged its war against the Jewish nation on October 7.
In a post on X, the military said: "IDF combat engineers are currently working to expose and destroy Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, including tunnels. Water and oxygen storage discovered inside the tunnels indicates Hamas' preparations for prolonged stays underground.
"130 tunnel entrances have been destroyed since the beginning of the war."
In an earlier statement late Wednesday, the IDF said that it destroyed a Hamas tunnel near a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sponsored school in the Beit Hanoun area of northern Gaza.
It also shared a video allegedly showing the destruction "near the school" through a drone camera.
"With the expansion of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the soldiers are thwarting Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure," the IDF added.
The myriad of tunnels under Gaza are best known as passageways used to smuggle goods from Egypt and launch attacks into Israel.
But according to the IDF, a second underground network also exists which the Israeli military colloquially refer to as the "Gaza metro".
It is a vast labyrinth of tunnels, by some accounts several kilometres underground, used to transport people and goods; to store rockets and ammunition caches; and house Hamas command and control centers, all away from the prying eyes of the IDF's aircraft and surveillance drones, CNN reported.
In 2021, Hamas had claimed to have built 500 km worth of tunnels under Gaza, though it is unclear if that figure was accurate or posturing.
If true, Hamas’ underground tunnels would be a little less than half the length of the New York City subway system.
40,000 people walked to southern Gaza since early Nov: UN
The UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) said that since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) created periodic evacuation "corridors" earlier this month, at least 40,000 people have walked from northern Gaza to the besieged enclave's southern regions.
The IDF has repeatedly called on civilians to move south of Wadi Gaza -- a waterway bisecting the center of the enclave -- as it intensifies its assault on Hamas in Gaza City and northern Gaza.
The UNRWA said that UN monitors and NGOs are providing water and biscuits to evacuees just south of the Wadi Gaza.
For a fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, the Israeli military opened the “corridor” along the main traffic artery, Salah Ad Deen Road, for residents to leave the north between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which was then extended by an hour, as people were still moving southwards.
It is estimated that about 50,000 people evacuated during the day, the largest number since the corridor opened, bringing the estimated figure since November 5 to 72,000.
Most evacuees move on foot and those who use vehicles leave them at the southern edge of Gaza city at the Al Kuwaiti roundabout.
The evacuees then walk 4-5 km down the corridor, with an estimated distance of up to 20 km for those traveling farthest, according to the UNRWA.
Since the war broke out on October 7, about 1.5 million people in Gaza have been internally displaced, according to the UN agency.
Of them, nearly 725,000 are sheltering in 149 UNRWA facilities; 122,000 in hospitals, churches and public buildings; 131,134 in 94 non-UNRWA schools, and the remainder with host families.