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Israeli army says it discovered traces of hostages in an underground tunnel in Gaza

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The Israeli army stated Wednesday it has discovered proof that hostages had been current in an underground tunnel within the Gaza Strip metropolis of Khan Younis, which has turn out to be the main focus of Israel’s floor offensive.

The army confirmed the tunnel to journalists who had been escorted right into a neighborhood close to the ruins of destroyed properties and streets. A corrugated tin hut lined the tunnel’s entrance in a residential yard.

A makeshift ladder led to the slim underground pathway, about 2.5 meters (8 toes) under. The tunnel was scorching and humid, with partitions lined with concrete and electrical wires. Farther inside was a toilet, the place the army stated it discovered proof that hostages had been there, together with their DNA.

“Hostages had been held right here on this tunnel system,” stated Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman.

Hagari provided no particulars on what precisely was discovered within the tunnel, nor did he say when the hostages had been there or establish them. He didn’t say in the event that they had been recognized to be {dead} or alive.

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In a later assertion to the media, he stated the captives had been held in “tough circumstances,” with out elaborating.

A number of hostages freed in a cease-fire deal in late November described being held inside tunnels, which Hamas has laid all through the Gaza Strip and which Israel says have lengthy been used to smuggle weapons and fighters all through the blockaded territory.

The tunnel was present in part of the town that seems to have endured heavy preventing. The close by residence was badly broken.

In one other constructing, the partitions had been blasted out of a number of residences. Giant mounds of filth surrounded the realm, apparently from Israeli bulldozers trying to find buried explosives. A tank was parked outdoors an empty faculty, the place an Israeli flag was hung from the outside partitions. The sound of what seemed to be a drone buzzed overhead, and gunfire may very well be heard within the distance.

The army says Hamas is working from contained in the tunnels, and army officers have made the destruction of the tunnel system a prime aim.

Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, commander of the army’s 98th Division, described the tunnels as posing “a 720-degree risk.”

“It’s not 360, however it’s 720, underground and over floor,” Goldfus stated.

Israel additionally believes that Hamas chief Yehya Sinwar is hiding in a tunnel someplace in Khan Younis.

The beleaguered metropolis, Gaza’s second-largest, has turn out to be the main focus of Israel’s warfare on Hamas in current weeks. On Wednesday’s tour for journalists, no residents seemed to be within the space. Israel has ordered residents to evacuate parts of the town because it proceeds with the offensive.

In its fierce Oct. 7 assault, Hamas and different militants killed 1,200 individuals and took hostage roughly 250, based on Israeli authorities.

The assault sparked the warfare. Greater than 23,000 Palestinians, largely girls and kids have been killed, based on the Well being Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Greater than 85% of Gaza’s inhabitants of two.3 million has been displaced, and huge swaths of the territory have been leveled.

About 110 hostages have been launched. Some 110 stay with their captors, together with the our bodies of about 20 individuals killed in captivity, based on Israel. A number of different our bodies of captives had been retrieved by Israeli forces, and three hostages had been killed mistakenly by the army.

The plight of the hostages has gripped Israelis, who see them as a permanent image of the state’s failure to guard its residents on Oct. 7.

Israel has made liberating the hostages a part of its warfare goals, together with crushing Hamas’ army and governing capabilities.



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