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Tunnels from Hamas leaders' homes found under Gaza City, Israel military says

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Israeli forces uncovered a network of tunnels running deep beneath central Gaza City from properties registered to Yahya Sinwar and other senior Hamas organizers of the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the military said on Wednesday.

Yahya Sinwar © Mena Today 

Israeli forces uncovered a network of tunnels running deep beneath central Gaza City from properties registered to Yahya Sinwar and other senior Hamas organizers of the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the military said on Wednesday.

The tunnels were found when soldiers secured a central area of the city in recent days, spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.

Accessed by spiral staircases and an elevator up to 20 meters (66 ft) below ground, the tunnels were kitted out with electricity, plumbing, surveillance cameras and heavy blast doors, according to images shared with reporters by the military.

"This complex, both above and below ground, was a centre of power for Hamas' military and political wings," Lerner said. 

The tunnels were used by senior Hamas officials including Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Muhammad Deif to direct operations and for "protected daily movement" through the heart of Gaza City, the military said in a statement.

Israeli accuses the militant group of deliberately locating tunnels and other military infrastructure among civilians whom it uses as human shields.

Sinwar and Deif are believed to be the masterminds behind the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks that killed 1,200 people and triggered an Israeli assault on Gaza that has killed around 20,000 people and forced most of the 2.3 million population to flee their homes.

Israel has the stated goal of destroying Hamas and rescuing more than 130 people still held hostage by the Palestinian Islamist militants.

Hamas has long boasted that its tunnel network is hundreds of kilometres (miles) long. Some shafts are to 80 metres deep and were described by one freed hostage as "a spider's web".

The group's tunnels beneath the sandy 360 sq km coastal strip and its borders include attack, smuggling, storage and operational burrows, Western and Middle East sources familiar with the matter have said.

Earlier this week, Israel said it uncovered an unusually large concrete and iron-girded tunnel designed to carry carloads of militant fighters from Gaza right up to the border.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by James Mackenzie and Daniel Wallis

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