Netanyahu: Israel's Response to a Hamas Tunnel Attack Would Be Stronger Than 2014 Gaza War

Several days after Hamas leader admits group is rebuilding tunnels in preparation of future conflict, Israeli prime minister warns of 'very forceful' response to an attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2016.
AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that should Hamas carry out an attack against Israel using one of its Gaza tunnels Israel will respond with much greater force than during the 2014 Gaza war. 

"We're acting methodically and with a level head against all threats, including the Hamas threat, both with defensive measures and with offensive ones," Netanyahu said, addressing a conference of Israeli ambassadors from around the world at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

"Of course, if we're attacked by tunnels in the Gaza Strip we'll act very forcefully against Hamas, and with much greater force than what was used even during Operation Protective Edge," he said.  

"I think that's understood in the region, it's also understood in the world," Netanyahu added. "I hope that won't be necessary, but our abilities, both our defensive and offensive ones, are quickly developing and I wouldn't advise anyone to try them." 

On Friday, Hamas' leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said the group was developing their military capabilities and were rebuilding tunnels in preparation of a future conflict with Israel.

Haniyeh made the comments as part of his weekly sermon at the end of Friday prayers in Gaza and ahead of a funeral for seven members of the organizations killed this week during a tunneling accident in the northern part of the Strip.

"There are those who think that the calm is a time of rest," Haniyeh said. "But this is a continuation of the struggle. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are working and preparing for Palestine. Fighters are digging twice as much as the number of tunnels dug in Vietnam," he said.