Israeli security officials said terrorists apparently planned to use the tunnel to kidnap soldiers, wage an attack on a kindergarten located near the tunnel opening at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha or attack other Israeli communities located close to the Gaza border.
Details released for publication Sunday revealed soldiers found the tunnel close to midnight Wednesday near the kibbutz. Details of its discovery were subjected to censorship until after the tunnel had been destroyed.
"I want to praise the Israel Defense Forces on the discovery of the tunnel ... in recent weeks we are witnessing an increase in terrorist activities ..." Israel Radio quoted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday.
The tunnel stretched from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip to the kibbutz and is estimated to be some 1.2 miles long, the radio report said. While no explosives or weapons were found inside the tunnel, soldiers found hollow areas in its walls where explosives could be stashed, the radio said. Several exits were also discovered inside the tunnel. The army did not rule out the possibility that terrorists had already used them to scout out the area and compile intelligence ahead of an attack, the radio said.
Lighting and rail tracks had been installed inside the tunnel, the Israeli news site Walla reported.
Maj.Gen Eitan Dangot, coordinator of government activities in the West Bank and Gaza, halted the transfer of construction materials to Gaza until an assessment of the situation is conducted, Ynetnews.com said.