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Israeli army indicts Palestinian minor allegedly involved in Gaza tunnels

May 10, 2016 5:14 P.M. (Updated: May 11, 2016 2:16 P.M.)
Israeli forces discover Gaza tunnel April 18, 2014 (Source: IDF)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian minor was indicted on Tuesday morning in Israel’s Beer Sheva District Court for allegedly providing assistance in the protection of Hamas-built tunnels in the besieged Gaza Strip, the Israeli army announced after an Israeli authorities-issued gag order was lifted on the case.

The Israeli army said the minor, a resident of the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, was active in Hamas’ northern Gaza Strip Brigade and carried out military operations on Israeli forces. The statement alleged that most of his training was geared towards "infiltration, entry into buildings, and the detonation of explosive charges as part of a concept that the next combat would be on Israeli territory."

He also took part in planting explosives in and around Hamas-built tunnels and stored additional explosives in his home -- allegedly to use in the event Israeli forces entered the tunnels, the statement added.

Israeli forces detained the young Palestinian on April 6 after he attempted to cross the security fence into Israel from the blockaded coastal territory. He is allegedly "one of several militants currently being investigated by the ISA (Israel Securities Authority) and who are revealing updated internal information about Hamas's intensive tunnel digging activity."

Israeli security said they acquired “extensive” information on Hamas’ tunnel activities during their investigation, including information on emergency tunnel routes and the location of several tunnel shafts.

The identity of the minor and the details of his sentence has yet to be released by Israeli authorities. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an she expects his identity would be revealed in the next few days.

The unidentified minor is the second alleged Hamas operative detained over suspected involvement in the tunnel crossings in the last week, following four consecutive days of Israeli aerial assaults on the besieged enclave.

In less than a month, Israeli forces claimed to have uncovered the first two tunnels crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel's devastating offensive on the small Palestinian territory in 2014.

There have been reports in recent months that Hamas has expanded its tunnel network -- used mainly for military purposes in the northern Gaza Strip and smuggling in the south.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas' inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement insisted Friday it does not call for a new war with Israel.

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