GAZA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement announced Sunday it was behind the recently discovered tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel.
"Al-Qassam Brigades dug the tunnel," said Abu Obaida, a spokesperson for the military wing of Hamas. "The Brigades work in its full capacity over and under the ground and dig in the rocks."
Speaking to a Hamas radio station in Gaza, he said the tunnel aimed at "freeing (Palestinian) prisoners." Hamas apparently had plans to kidnap Israeli soldiers and held them for a prisoner exchange.
In 2006, Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, from his base near Gaza and swapped him for more than 1,000 prisoners two years ago.
The Israeli military declared last Sunday that it had uncovered a tunnel beneath the security fence separating Israel and southeast Gaza Strip.
In a speech Saturday, Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haneya referred to the tunnel, saying "the resistance men work over and under the ground for the liberation battle."
Israel suspended the flow of building materials to Gaza following Sunday's discovery, two weeks after it had resumed such deliveries.
Since November, Israel and Hamas observe an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that has ended eight days of cross-border clashes.