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Israel attacks vast tunnel system beneath Gaza — 'pivotal for anything that Hamas has planned to do'
Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images

Israel attacks vast tunnel system beneath Gaza — 'pivotal for anything that Hamas has planned to do'

Israel announced that it has been fighting against Hamas militants within a network of underground tunnel systems in Gaza, where many Israeli hostages are believed to be amid the ongoing conflict.

The development comes after a hospital director said more than 50 Palestinians were fatally wounded during an Israeli airstrike on a refugee camp. While the battle in Gaza has continued, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed calls to stop the fighting, per Reuters.

Israel recently claimed that it has launched attacks within a network of underground passages believed to be where Hamas carries out its military operations, according to CBS News. The tunnel system is believed to stretch 300 miles and include passages, shafts, rooms, and narrow passageways.

Joel Raskin, an expert on Gaza's tunnels, said that they "are pivotal for anything that Hamas has planned to do."

The tunnels are said to have been dug by hand using unsophisticated tools and were previously used to smuggle goods in from Egypt. Later on, they were used to store weapons. But now the underground network has electricity, phone lines, and even concrete that make it ideal for modernized forms of military attack.

"The geology of the Gaza Strip is ideal for tunnel digging and maintaining, but it's very complex for tunnel detection based on the abundant layers of sediment," Raskin said.

Israel currently believes that defeating Hamas means destroying those tunnel networks, especially those that are close to the Israeli border. The Jewish state's chief military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, claimed that Hamas militants operate under Shifa Hospital — the largest hospital in Gaza.

However, Hamas has dismissed the claims that it is operating under the hospital.

The major question being raised is how Israel will balance civilian casualties while attempting to defeat a terrorist organization that is known to operate within the civilian population, including using civilians as human shields.

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