Israeli Troops Uncover Hamas Smuggling Tunnel

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli troops on a routine patrol near the border with the Gaza Strip discovered a smuggling tunnel shaft near an Israeli kibbutz (agricultural community), the IDF Spokesman's Office announced Tuesday.

"Yesterday, Monday, January 15, IDF soldiers discovered the shaft of a terror tunnel in Israeli territory during routine activity adjacent to the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip area," the statement read.

The IDF dispatched a Combat Engineering Corps unit to investigate the tunnel, described as the same size tunnel used in the June 2006 cross-border attack on an IDF outpost that left two soldiers dead, three wounded, and one kidnapped.

"This incident, which indicates the intent to execute terror attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers on Israeli territory, is seen as a severe one," the statement concluded.

Israel secured former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's release in October 2011 in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian Arab prisoners serving time for terror-related crimes.

Hamas and other Gaza-based Islamist terror groups are continually threatening to kidnap more soldiers to use as bargaining chips in future prisoner swaps. The IDF has thwarted many attempted abductions.

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