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FILE - A Palestinian youth walks inside a tunnel used for military exercises during a weapon exhibition at a Hamas-run youth summer camp in Gaza City July 20, 2016. An extensive labyrinth of tunnels built by Hamas stretches across the dense neighborhoods of the Gaza Strip, hiding militants, their missile arsenal and the over 200 hostages they now hold after an unprecedented Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

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80% of Hamas tunnels in the Gaza Strip are still intact: US-Israel report

After 114 days of conflict, up to 80 percent of Hamas’s underground tunnel system beneath the Gaza Strip may still be operational, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

The Israel Defense Forces are currently engaged in intense fighting in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, with the 98th Division clashing with Hamas operatives in the region.

Simultaneously, diplomatic efforts led by the US were underway to devise a two-part plan for the release of more than 130 hostages still held in the Strip, abducted from Israel.

The proposed exchange involved a temporary ceasefire lasting up to two months.

Citing Israeli and US officials, The Journal report highlighted the challenge of assessing the extent of damage to the subterranean labyrinth.

It estimated that 20% to 40% of the tunnel network has been damaged or rendered unusable by Israeli forces.

Since launching a ground offensive following the October 7 massacre, where Hamas-led terrorists killed around 1,200 people and took 253 hostages, Israeli forces have been actively targeting and dismantling the tunnels. Various methods, including bombing and flooding, have been employed.

However, progress is slow due to the need for careful mapping, checking for traps, and ensuring the absence of hostages before destruction.

According to a senior Israeli military official cited by The Journal, the IDF’s focus is on eliminating specific “nodes” within the tunnels where Hamas operatives hide, rather than demolishing entire networks.

The official emphasized the challenging and meticulous nature of the mission, describing it as a form of urban warfare rarely witnessed on a global scale.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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