Israel Destroys Gaza Terror Tunnel Killing 7 Inside
Seven terrorists aligned with Hamas and Islamic Jihad including senior commanders were killed Monday when the Israeli army blew up a terror tunnel it had detected beneath the Gaza Strip that extended into Israeli territory. An Israeli spokesman said that the terrorists’ killings were not intentional and that the mission was to destroy the tunnel, noting that the operation took place entirely inside Israeli territory. Because the tunnel had been extended through the border, it was not necessary for Israeli soldiers to enter Gaza. The incident again proves the great fear of Israeli civilians who live in communities along the border with Gaza that tunnels from which terror raids can be launched could exist beneath their homes. However, a number of senior fighters died after running into the tunnel to save those inside and presumably suffocated. According to information supplied by the Israeli news portal YNet, the dead included the head of the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad force in the Gaza Strip and a senior Hamas commander. It also noted that the reaction of Islamic Jihad included threats to retaliate while the Hamas statement did not do so. Nevertheless, the Israeli military prepared for attempts at retaliation and took steps that included deploying Iron Dome batteries near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Islamic Jihad called the destruction of the tunnel a “dangerously aggressive escalation.” The Fatah faction, which is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reacted by accusing Israel of trying to sabotage the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Islamic Jihad, however, is not a party to the rapprochement and maintains its own army of more than 10,000 fighters and like Hamas, has an arsenal that includes thousands of rockets and missiles. Since Hamas took control of Gaza in a violent 2007 coup, it has been Israeli policy to hold Hamas – as governing entity – responsible for any acts of violence emanating from the enclave. It’s not yet clear whether that has changed since Hamas very recently relinquished administrative control to Fatah/PA.