Underneath Khan Younis, a Hamas-controlled area in southern Gaza, there was an underground structure where five rooms with closed doors allegedly housed Israeli hostages who had been captured.
There were about twenty hostages held there at different points in time, according to the Israeli military, and the compound was adorned with teapots and teacups. During a weeklong truce in late November, some were released, while others, such as older individuals, were subsequently sent to different areas in Gaza.
Freeing the remaining 130 or so detainees would likely necessitate a diplomatic agreement involving a cease-fire, but the Israeli military has been conflicted about eliminating Hamas’s military and its governance powers. A quarter of the hostages have been officially pronounced dead, and many Israelis are worried that the remaining hostages may not have much longer to live. The extensive and complex tunnel network that penetrates the Palestinian enclave and extends for hundreds of miles is a significant factor that has impeded the military offensive.
An Israeli military source has revealed that explosives were planted at the entrance of a tunnel beneath the Gaza home of a Hamas operative. The soldiers were killed in close-quarters action with many fighters as they moved along the underground tunnel and met blast doors.
Located approximately 65 feet below ground, the compound was half a mile into the tunnels that were laced with electrical and communication cables. Two drawings made by Emilia Aloni, an Israeli girl who was seized with her mother, Danielle, on October 7, were discovered in the deserted room by the soldiers. In November, as part of a temporary truce agreement, they were released together with thirteen other hostages, all of whom were women and children, after being held captive for about seven weeks.
There was a lack of food and water, poor medical care, and harsh conditions, according to some of the freed hostages. Some of the captives were reportedly held in a central chamber while others were placed in small cells with locked doors, according to the Israeli military. While DNA tests did link the hair to hostages, it did not reveal their identities. When power was available, a boiler could heat water.
With its surrounding hills of dirt and debris and churned-up roadways, the area is now a desolate wasteland.