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Israel says it destroyed Hamas undersea tunnel

An Israeli army spokesperson says the tunnel is the first of its kind to be discovered
Ismail Haniya, the head of Hamas, gestures to demonstrators at a protest camp during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza Strip (AFP)

An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip destroyed a Hamas tunnel that gave frogmen unseen access to the sea from their base, the Israeli army said Sunday.

Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters that the tunnel, the first of its kind discovered by Israeli intelligence, was hit on 3 June in the north of the strip as Israeli aircraft pounded over a dozen militant targets in Gaza.

He said it was probable there were more like it not yet located by Israel.

"We continue to monitor using all our operational, technical and intelligence capabilities that we have at our disposal," he said.

Last week's strikes were launched in retaliation for rockets fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza.

Conricus said the tunnel ran from a military facility of Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas into the Mediterranean Sea, "a few dozen metres away" at a depth underwater of two to three metres.

"It could have facilitated hostile activity against the state of Israel," he said, adding that the tunnel's underwater exit was about three kilometres from Israel's border.

He said the tunnel had been used in Hamas training and was "operational".

Clashes with troops on Gaza's land border have seen least 129 Palestinians killed since protests broke out along the Gaza border on 30 March.

There have been no Israeli fatalities.

Protests peaked on 14 May when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in demonstrations to coincide with the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

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