Hamas says it captured Israeli tunnel monitoring vehicle

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Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Hamas has captured an Israeli vehicle for monitoring tunnels under the border with Gaza, a top official from the Islamist group said on Friday.

Ismail Haniya, Hamas's leader in Gaza, said that 10 days ago the group's armed wing "discovered an underground vehicle on which were installed cameras and sensors to monitor tunnels and fighters."

Speaking in a sermon at Muslim prayers in the Shati refugee camp where he lives, Haniya said the find gave the movement an "advantage."

The destruction of tunnels under its border with Gaza was one of Israel's main objectives in a summer 2014 offensive on the territory.

The tunnels can be used to store weapons, while fighters have also used them to conduct raids into Israel.

In recent weeks, Israelis living near the border have reported hearing drilling, raising fears of new tunnels.

Haniya said despite fresh tensions there was "no war against Gaza looming on the horizon".

"The occupation is embarking on defensive manoeuvres and it is proof that (Israel) is not preparing for war."

He said there had been "a lot of progress on the issue of the port of Gaza" in recent talks between Israel and Turkey on mending ties between the two governments.

A senior Turkish official said on Tuesday that Ankara was "close" to an agreement on normalising relations, nearly six years after they were downgraded following a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla headed to Gaza.

Ankara has always posed three conditions for normalisation -- a public apology for the raid, financial compensation for the victims and the lifting of Israel's decade-old Gaza blockade.

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