Israel military reveals Hamas weapons factories, tunnels in Gaza Strip

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Israel’s military on Monday showed journalists what a spokesman described as a cluster of weapons factories and tunnels used by Hamas militants in Gaza to manufacture rockets.

Soldiers leading a media tour in Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip said that what looked like cement factories and other industrial facilities were in fact used to make missiles and shells stored in deep shafts.

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Stood in a large hut with sunshine streaking through the gaps in the wall, army spokesman Daniel Hagari held what he said were detonators for rockets capable of hitting targets 100 kilometres (62 miles) away -- a range covering much of central and southern Israel.

He told reporters at the site that “this factory was built embedded with Salah al-Din Road,” a major north-south route also used to transport humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.

The army said in a statement issued later that it was “the largest weapons production site found since the beginning of the war”.

Some of the shafts were 30-metre (100-feet) deep and the tunnels formed a network that connected to Hamas fighters throughout Gaza, the statement said.

Bureij, just south of Gaza city, was home to more than 45,000 people before the Israel-Hamas war began in early October, according to data from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

But many have fled the violence, and the areas shown to journalists during the army tour looked abandoned with no Palestinians in sight.

Israeli bulldozers crashed through a wrecked landscape, churning up tracts of dirt between badly damaged buildings as they tried to flatten the land and secure the area.

Hagari said on Saturday that Israeli forces had wiped out the Hamas military framework in northern Gaza and had moved to central and southern areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the war cannot end until Hamas militants no longer pose a threat to his country, while the United Nations has warned that the fighting risks rendering the territory uninhabitable.

The war was triggered when Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel on October 7, resulting in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom remain captive, Israel says. At least 25 are believed to have been killed.

Israel has responded with relentless bombardment and a ground invasion that have killed at least 23,084 people, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

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