EREZ MILITARY BASE, Israel (AP) — The Israeli army said on Wednesday that Hamas has rebuilt some of the capabilities that were damaged during last year’s Gaza war, including three new tunnels and a series of weapons manufacturing and storage sites.
The army published aerial imagery and maps showing what it said are tunnels, weapons factories and arms depots. It said the installations were near al-Azhar University in Gaza City, a Pepsi factory, mosques, United Nations facilities and hospitals elsewhere in Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the army’s claims are ’”pure lies and fabrications.”
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies that have fought four wars and numerous skirmishes since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
In the most recent round of fighting, in May 2021, over 260 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, and tens of thousands displaced, according to U.N. figures.
The Israeli army says it tries to prevent civilian casualties and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields by operating and firing rockets from residential areas.
Human rights groups have accused Israel of failing to do enough to prevent civilian casualties, and striking targets with no evident military purpose. Rights groups have also criticized Hamas for aiming aiming rockets at population centers in Israel.
Israel claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on Hamas last year. A military official said Wednesday that more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of tunnels were destroyed last year.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines, declined to say how much of that network Hamas has rebuilt.