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A labyrinth-like tunnel that the Israeli military says is the biggest Hamas tunnel in Gaza

2024-01-11 (266)

CNN’s Will Ripley reports on a labyrinth-like tunnel that the Israeli military says is the biggest Hamas tunnel in Gaza.

Video Transcription:

Joining us now, the republican

governor of New Hampshire, Kristenunu.

And we do have something I want to share with you

tonight on that a new image of a tunnel tonight.

So you're looking at this here and

you can see how wide it is.

These images come from both the IDF and also

Reuters journalists who were there to witness it.

The tunnel spans two and a half miles.

It reaches more than 160ft underground,

and it is equipped with electricity,

ventilation and communication systems.

It goes incredibly close to the israeli border and

can be used for large forces to move. Right.

You can see this isn't a narrow thing at all.

Its discovery comes as this war

is spreading beyond Israel's borders.

Another iranian funded militia, the Houthis, today

claiming responsibility for an attack on a

ship in the Red Sea.

The USS Carney, quickly responding

to the ship's distress call.

But over the past two months, houthi forces have been

involved in a number of attacks along the Red Sea.

Actual hijacking, drones, missile

attacks on commercial ships.

And all this is adding up now to a

lot of ships rerouting, taking longer to get where

they're going to go, skipping the Suez Canal.

These attacks are taking a toll on the whole

world because 90% of the world's commerce moves by

ship, 10% through the Suez Canal every day, never

mind things like oil and liquefied natural gas going

through that passageway every second.

Today, oil and natural gas prices spiking after

british petroleum said it would stop all shipments

through the Red Sea because of these strikes.

And we're going to have much more

on these attacks in just a moment.

I want to begin, though, with Will Ripley, because

he is out front, live in Tel Aviv.

And, will, today you were in southern

Israel, just a few miles from Gaza.

And what did you know, Aaron, we were working

most of the day within a stone's throw of

the fence that divides Israel and Gaza.

And you did not need a map to know when we

were getting close to Gaza because there was a massive smoke

plume that was rising up from that embattled area.

And in fact, every few minutes as we

were driving and then even louder on the

ground, we heard very loud booms.

This was the sound of outgoing israeli artillery landing,

theoretically presumably, on the people of Gaza, which makes

you wonder what the conditions must be like for

them there, both above and even below ground, beneath

the bombed out rubble of Gaza.

A massive underground labyrinth.

Newly released videos from the israeli military claim

to show the biggest Hamas tunnel in Gaza,

two and a half miles long, up to

164ft deep, with electricity, ventilation and communication systems.

The IDF says the tunnel is wide enough

for a large vehicle, even a makeshift railroad.

CNN cannot independently verify these videos, claiming

to show what the IDF calls Hamas's

strategic infrastructure, hundreds of terror tunnel shafts

throughout the Gaza Strip.

The IDF on a mission to locate

and destroy dozens of attack tunnel routes.

Hamas made the unverified claim of building

more than 300 miles of tunnels under

Gaza, tunnels for smuggling goods, launching attacks,

storing rockets and ammunition.

And Israel says Hamas command centers hidden beneath homes

under this child's caught, not the baby's caught.

You see a tunnel that was used for terror by Hama for

three israeli men held hostage in Gaza, a sign of desperation to

the end, a white sheet and a plea for help.

Scrawled in Hebrew with leftover food, it reads, help.

Three hostages.

A message either missed or ignored by israeli

soldiers who shot them down from a distance,

all three shirtless, waving a white cloth.

The men holed up in a building in

the embattled Shijaya neighborhood of Gaza city.

It's not clear if the hostages were abandoned

or managed to escape before the fatal confrontation.

The IDF admits the killings broke their rules of

engagement, adding pressure on israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

to secure the release of around 129 remaining hostages

amid growing international calls for a ceasefire, a truce

Israel says would only strengthen Hamas.

As everyday people suffer.

On the streets of Gaza, social media images

show crowds climbing on aid trucks, a sign

of growing desperation amid a mounting humanitarian crisis

as the number of dead in Gaza approaches

a staggering new milestone of 20,000.

That number just gives you chills.

And yet that is the reality in Gaza right now.

And also the reality.

These new serious questions, Aaron, about how

the IDF is operating on the ground.

The fact that these three israeli hostages

came out shirtless, waving a white cloth.

Two of them were shot instantly, but yet the third,

who went back, sought shelter, then came out again waving

a white cloth and was shot and killed before the

forces realized that he was, in fact, israeli.

You wonder what is happening to the countless civilians who

are dying in Gaza, some of them face to face

with the israeli forces that are on the ground there.

Aaron yes, we do. All right.

Thank you very much, will ripley in Tel Aviv.

Out front now, Daphne Richmond.

Barack she's an expert on Hamas tunnels

and the author of Underground Warfare, also

an assistant professor at Israel's Reichman University.

And I really appreciate your

taking the time, professor.

So when you look at the passageways of

the tunnels now, we're looking at them much

wider than the tunnels we've seen before.

You can see a lot of people walking

through together, as opposed to that very narrow

pathway of the other images that we've seen.

Even wide enough for vehicles, the

IDF says even wide enough for

a railroad, electricity, ventilation, communication.

All of mean.

You spent a decade of your life

studying tunnels like this, this entire system.

What do you see here?

I see a tunnel that looks a whole lot like

the tunnels that North Korea has dug into South Korea.

This is what I see.

I see something of a much higher

level of sophistication, which you described.

Much wider, more resistant, stronger, dug not

just by hand, but actually with the

use of some sophisticated civilian boring equipment.

So we're talking about tunnel

warfare on a different level.

And I see also, in addition to the influence

of North Korea, kind of like the large tunnel

enabling a massive invasion and infiltration into the country.

I also see the hand of Iran here, which

is a country that has deeply buried facilities.

So it is very different from what Hamas

has done with its underground tunnel network.

But you can see that with Iran's help,

Hamas has been able to dig deeper.

And, you know, you talk about the equipment,

heavy, boring equipment that would have been used.

I know the IDF has shown what they say

are some images of construction on this tunnel.

This tunnel, though, where it's located, we understand,

according to the IDF, it ends just about

a thousand feet from the israeli border.

A specific crossing, actually, the Erez crossing

on the northern israeli Gaza border.

So when you take into account what the tunnel

is, when you talk about possibly being used for

a large scale invasion, and where you see it,

then, what does that layer of context tell you?

So a couple of things.

I think you put it very well.

It raises a lot of questions.

The first thing that I can tell you is,

I'm pretty sure that this is not the only

tunnel of the like that Hamas has.

Not all Hamas tunnels look like this one, but I

presume that it has a few, a dozen, I would

say, of such kind of like more heavy duty tunnels.

And now the next question that comes up is, okay, so

what did Hamas really intend to do with this tunnel?


It's obviously a very important military asset that was

well concealed and came very close to Israel's border.

So I see two options.

Number one, this is a tunnel that was actually used,

or some portion of it, or some variation on this

tunnel was used on October 7 itself to enable this

massive infiltration of over 3000 Hamas fighters.

I mean, these are some of the numbers.

We don't know the exact number.

We know it's a very high number.

And then for them to go on foot into

Israel, I would find it very surprising that it

didn't use any kind of cross border tunnel.

So maybe this was one of those.

But I think another order of questioning would come to

say, okay, this wasn't used then what was Hamas's plan?

Was it to use this tunnel and make it operational?

Because it's obviously quasi operational right now and

make it usable during the war, during the

operation to carry out another massive infiltration, or

more kidnappings and more killings.

Meaning it's either one of these two options

because of exactly what you said, the fact

that it's coming so close to Israel's border.

I see these two scenarios, and I presume that Israel

will uncover in the coming days more such tunnels.
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