Israel Strikes Islamic Jihad Tunnel Infiltrating From Southern Gaza

Israeli army says it attacked two rocket launchers cells and killed five or six members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad since escalation began on Saturday

Israeli army attacks an Islamic Jihad tunnel crossing into Israeli territory, May 4, 2019.
IDF Spokesperson

Israel struck an Islamic Jihad tunnel that infiltrated Israel from the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, the Israeli military said. 

The army struck the tunnel while it pounded Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout the coastal enclave in retaliation for an ongoing barrage of rockets that began Saturday morning. 

The Israeli army said that it detected some 200 rockets launched at Israel, and the Iron Dome missile defense system managed to intercept dozens. 

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"A short time ago, we attacked a tunnel belonging to Islamic Jihad that crossed into Israeli territory from the southern Strip," the Israel Defense Forces' Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.

Smoke billows following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, May 4, 2019.
AFP

"Over the last few weeks Islamic Jihad has invested much effort into the tunnel to make it useable and to attack from within Israeli territory. We are currently still in the process of the destroying the tunnel," the army said.

According to the spokesperson, the Israeli army has attacked two cells of rocket launchers, and as of their most recent estimates, five or six members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been killed.

"There are additional attacks underway that are expected to continue throughout the next few hours," he said, "We are increasing our air defenses as well as our ground forces, though not in large numbers."

The spokesperson emphasized that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the escalation and sees Islamic Jihad as a force that Hamas cannot manage to control.

The army spokesperson added that following discussions with the chief of staff and political leadership, the army will continue attacking Gaza. "We attacked targets today that we were certain had people inside. Islamic Jihad and Hamas are coordinating from a joint situation room, and we see that they are planning to continue these events," he said.

"Because I know the army's plans, I can assume that we will see continued rocket fire [from Gaza] throughout the day," the spokesperson added.

Ealier Saturday, Two Israelis were wounded, one seriously and another moderately, by rockets launched from Gaza.

A 22-year-old Palestinian identified as Imad Nasier was killed by Israeli strikes, Gaza's Health Ministry said. 

The escalation comes a day after four Palestinian in Gaza were killed and two Israeli soldiers were wounded during confrontations along the border between Israel and the coastal enclave. 

A Hamas political source has told Haaretz that the group decided to take serious steps against Israel due to the fact that the Israeli government has been slow in implementing understandings reached between the two parties