Yahya Sinwar’s subterranean tunnel system: IDF exposes the biggest Hamas tunnel found in Gaza


Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has successfully exposed the biggest Hamas tunnel located at 400 meters from the Erez Humanitarian Crossing in Gaza, which is also known as IDF kingpin Yahya Sinwar’s “Subterranean Tunnel System”.

According to IDF, until October 6, 2023, the Erez Humanitarian Crossing, operated by COGAT’s Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza, served as a symbol of hope and coexistence. Thousands of Palestinians would cross into Israel for work and medical treatment. The IDF exposed Hamas subterranean tunnel system of attack tunnels built in the immediate vicinity of the Erez crossing. This massive tunnel system, splits into branches of tunnels, spans well over four kilometers (2.5 miles) and reaches only 400 meters (1,310 feet) from the Erez crossing. This subterranean tunnel system was a project led by Muhammad Sinwar, the brother of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

To date, the IDF has exposed hundreds of terror tunnel shafts throughout the Gaza Strip. Many are built from reinforced concrete and are equipped with electricity, ventilation, sewage, communication networks and rails, like the one we are exposing. Over the past 70 days, the IDF has exposed multiple examples where these tunnels were built under hospitals, schools, kindergartens and other sensitive sites. The IDF continues to use advanced operational, intelligence and technological means to eliminate Hamas’ network of terror tunnels across the Gaza Strip.

The ground forces, using operational field intelligence, have provided a lot of information about Hamas’ terror tunnels project, and have helped to advance both our knowledge and our maps of the tunnels. From the beginning of the war till now, the IDF has been operating to locate and destroy dozens of attack tunnel routes, as part of the systematic dismantling of Hamas infrastructure.

“Hamas has persistently and deliberately invested enormous amounts of money and resources into terrorist tunnels that serve only one purpose – attacking the State of Israel and its residents. This strategic attack tunnel network, large enough to drive vehicles through, was spearheaded by Muhammad Sinwar and intentionally dug near a crossing dedicated to the movement of Gazans into Israel for work and medical care”, said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the IDF International Spokesperson. “For Hamas, attacking the people of Israel continues to take priority over supporting the people of Gaza”.

Erez crossing

The Erez Crossing is operated by the Ministry of Defense and is the primary pedestrian crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) in COGAT, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, operates from near the crossing, coordinating all of the humanitarian and civilian activities between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The crossing served as a key point for Gazans to enter Israel for both labor and humanitarian purposes. In 2022, over 800,000 Gazans crossed via Erez Crossing; in the first half of 2023, 550,000 did, putting the crossing on track to facilitate over one million crossings this year. The crossing also supported passage of some 18,500 Gazan workers with Israeli work permits, where the average salary is six times higher than in Gaza. These workers made a significant contribution to the prosperity and growth of the Gazan economy.

Furthermore, over 7,000 Gazans entered Israel via Erez to receive medical treatment in 2022 and another 5,000 received permits in the first half of 2023.

A focal point of Hamas’ October 7 pogrom

On October 7, the very crossing dedicated to the movement of people between Gaza and Israel was attacked by Hamas. During Hamas’ invasion of southern Israel, terrorists rampaged the crossing and killed and abducted IDF soldiers who were on duty there. On Friday (December 15, 2023), the bodies of two IDF soldiers – CPL Nik Beizer and SGT Ron Sherman – who had been abducted from the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza base on October 7th, were recovered and returned to Israel in an IDF operation in the heart of Gaza.

The tunnel was secured by IDF forces a few weeks ago, as part of the IDF’s defensive efforts to restore security to the area. There is no evidence that the tunnel extends into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

About the tunnel

The complex tunnel network was constructed by a team of dozens of specifically trained operatives from southern Gaza. The team leveraged dedicated digging equipment that was smuggled into Gaza to excavate the tunnel. The tunnel reaches as deep as 50 meters underground, is over four kilometers long, and is at points wide enough for a large vehicle to drive through.

Like other tunnels throughout Gaza, the tunnel network has multiple branches, electricity and sewage facilities installed, and blast doors to block access. The tunnel displays other construction characteristics, such as extensive concrete arches and multiple access shafts.

Over the past few weeks, IDF ground forces and combat engineering forces from the Gaza Division, including soldiers from the Yahalom Unit have been conducting an extensive operation against Hamas’ terror tunnels. The unit leverages advanced technological capabilities to expose, assess, secure and dismantle Hamas terrorist tunnels.

The IDF is continuing to use various operational and technological means to eliminate Hamas’ network of attack terror tunnels across the Gaza Strip.

Here is an aerial photo showing part of the tunnel route.

Here is an animated infographic of the tunnel.

Here is footage of the construction of the tunnel from the cameras of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Here is footage provided by the Israel Ministry of Defense’s Crossing Authority of Hamas’ terrorist attack on the Erez humanitarian crossing on October 7th, as well as materials from the crossing before and after the attack.

Here is footage taken by a drone.

Here is footage of the soldier’s activity to expose and examine the tunnel.

Here is a sync of the Commanding Officer of the Northern Gaza Brigade, COL Haim Cohen from inside the tunnel.

Here are photos of footage from the tunnel’s construction workshop.

Here are photos from the excavation and examination of the tunnel by the IDF soldiers.


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