Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Israel destroys tunnel from Gaza it says intended for attacks

Mourners carry the body of Abdullah Zeidan a 33-year-old fisherman during his funeral in Gaza City Mourners carry the body of Abdullah Zeidan a 33-year-old fisherman during his funeral in Gaza City
Melinda Barton | 14 January, 2018, 13:36

The Israeli military has invested heavily into developing new technologies and intelligence-gathering capabilities to uncover and neutralize tunnels from Gaza and is in the process of building an underground barrier spanning the entire border with the Hamas-run enclave.

The strike came amidst an escalation between Gaza and Israel following U.S. President Donald Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6 previous year.

"This evening the IDF attacked Hamas's central terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip", Netanyahu said on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport before departing Israel for a week-long visit to India.

Gaza fishermen say that the limited fishing zone imposed by Israel is not big enough to meet demand of the coastal strip's 2 million people.

The rockets were launched by Salafi groups and the Islamic Jihad, but the military maintains that Hamas should be held responsible for any hostility from the besieged Palestinian enclave. Israel later confirmed the attack immediately after, but gave no details.

Tensions between Israel and Palestinians flared up after US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocate US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.

United Nations trucks carrying building materials for projects funded by UNRWA arrive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after crossing the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing on December 10, 2013.

According to the military, the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing was a necessary security measure for those in the crossing area and while the consequences of the closure would be felt in the Strip, "the Hamas terror organization repeatedly chooses to harm the welfare of Gaza residents".

Escalation could easily occur, even though both sides have signalled they do not want that to happen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the tunnel was a "main Hamas infrastructure".

The Israeli military said it has destroyed three such tunnels in the past two months, but that it was not seeking escalation.

Such tunnels have been used to carry out attacks in the past.

Conricus said as the tunnel entered Egyptian territory; the army was in contact with Cairo about its destruction but would not elaborate on the extent of the cooperation.