Israel Believed to Have Warned Egypt Before Striking Hamas Tunnel

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Hamas members patrol near the Gaza-Egypt border, January 14, 2018.
Hamas members patrol near the Gaza-Egypt border, January 14, 2018.Credit: Ibraeem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Israel is believed to have warned Egypt last week before its planes destroyed a Hamas tunnel that passed through Egyptian territory on its way into Israel.

Given the presence of Egyptian forces in the area, advance warning was considered necessary before the operation Saturday night.

The tunnel began about 900 meters (984 yards) from the Israeli border and reached 180 meters into the country, passing beneath the Kerem Shalom crossing. The tunnel had no exit into Egypt.

The tunnel also ran under the Kerem Shalom crossing — the main goods crossing into the Strip.

Israel has now destroyed four tunnels in less than three months, a key goal after Hamas sent fighters through attack tunnels in the 2014 Gaza war.

The Egyptians are believed not to have known of any tunnels in the area before the warning. It is believed they view the tunnel as an egregious violation of their sovereignty and the crossing of a red line in their relations with Hamas.

The supply of goods into Gaza is considered likely to resume Tuesday, though possibly at lower volumes than before the discovery of the tunnel.

The Southern Command will consider Monday whether to allow goods back in. The view is that essential supplies cannot be withheld, especially with the Gaza economy and infrastructure on the verge of collapse.

Supply would resume through Kerem Shalom, through which hundreds of trucks normally pass each week. Last year 570,000 tons of food, 7,000 tons of medical supplies and dozens of tons of electrical equipment, textiles, construction materials and agriculture equipment were sent through.

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