Israelis say Hamas tunnels remain huge threat

TEL AVIV, Israel - For Israelis, among the obstacles to a longer-term cease-fire is a network of tunnels that extend underground across the border from Gaza. The Israelis say the tunnels leave them wide open to attacks from Hamas, and they'll continue to target them.

Even Saturday during the cease-fire, the Israeli Defense Forces continued to search for tunnels. So far 31 have been found. The IDF describes them as sophisticated and capable of funneling armed Hamas militants across the border with Gaza.

During a recent speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to terror plots Hamas captives revealed during interrogation and what was hidden in one of the tunnels.

"We found handcuffs and sedatives," Netanyahu said.

He described an underground infrastructure with fortifications, electricity and cables designed to carry out large-scale attacks and kidnappings.

Israeli authorities say the tunnels are designed to allow Hamas militants to pop out without warning and attack Israeli communities. CBS News

One such plot involved hundreds of militants attacking Israeli farm communities.

"There have been a number of specific plots that have been uncovered, one of massive scale" said Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman.

"The tunnels are designed to allow armed groups to pop out on our side of the frontier with explosives, with automatic weapons, with rocket-propelled grenades, with anti-tank weapons, to enter our communities - a kibbutz, a farm or a small city - and to murder, cause mayhem, to terrorize," he said.

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Michal Ben-Hillel's home in kibbutz Nir Amis less than 300 yards from the border. Last week he was asleep when he was awakened by the sound of gunfire.

"Ten terrorists went through a tunnel which they had dug and popped up 200 meters from the border. Our intelligence spotted the entrance, they called the helicopters and the helicopters came in and shot all of them," Ben-Hillel said.

"No country would allow people just popping at night for the purposes of killing and murdering," he said.

Some of the tunnels are large enough to drive a truck through. The network, which also extends under Gaza City, was described by a former head of Israeli military intelligence as "like the streets of New York City underground."