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Israeli forces block entrance to Hebron-area 'tunnel,' impose curfew

Oct. 14, 2008 2:48 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 14, 2008 2:48 P.M.)
Hebron - Ma'an - More than a dozen Israeli military vehicles invaded the southern West Bank town of Dura and imposed a strict curfew on Tuesday after Palestinian security uncovered a tunnel being dug near an Israeli bypass road.

The discovery of the tunnel was announced by Palestinian security Monday evening after the structure was found beneath a construction site in the Farsh Al-Hawa neighborhood near Dura, a town south west of Hebron.

The tunnel, which seemed to have been built as an excavation site in search of ancient artifacts, is located approximately five kilometers south of the Israeli-only West Bank bypass road 35.

After Palestinian security had investigated the area for close to 24 hours, Israeli troops closed in on the area and imposed a curfew.

According to Hebron security commander Samih As-Seifi police had been informed two years ago of digging in the Farsh Al-Hawa area. The man beneath whose property the hole was being dug informed police that he was digging a well, "which is not illegal," As-Seifi affirmed.

On Monday night Palestinian detectives received more information indicating that the hole was not being used as a water well, but rather as some sort of tunnel. Security travelled to the scene, arrested several workers at the site, and seized digging tools.

As-Seifi himself entered the tunnel, and he explained that it was a "few meters deep at the beginning, then turned left, leading to a kind of room." When he explored the underground cave, however, As-Seifi found nothing.

The tunnel is about 150 meters long, and is kilometers away from any Israeli settlements, bypass roads pr military bases.

Though he would not reveal details about the owner of the tunnel, As-Seifi affirmed that he had claimed to be in search of antiquities.

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