Israel Air Force Strikes Gaza Attack Tunnel, Military Says

Reports: Israel fired 7 missiles ■ Explosions heard in Strip's north ■ Attack comes after Israel closed Gaza's only goods crossing

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Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip after Israeli airstrikes targeted a tunnel, Gaza Strip, May 12, 2018.
Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip after Israeli airstrikes targeted a tunnel, Gaza Strip, May 12, 2018.Credit: IDF Spokesman

The Israeli military said the air force struck an attack tunnel in Gaza Saturday evening. Explosions were heard in the Strip's north.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the tunnel was located a few meters from Israeli territory and, upon completion, would have led to the Israeli community of Kibbutz Erez.

Major Avichay Adraee, head of Arabic communications for the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, posted a video of the attack on his Twitter account.

The inside of the tunnel that was the target of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on May 12, 2018.Credit: IDF Spokesman

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Palestinian reports said Israel fired seven missiles toward an agricultural area east of the city of Beit Hanoun. No casualties have been reported.

The IDF sees a direct connection between this tunnel and the tunnel the army destroyed in January, which reached the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“Hamas’ actions so close to the Kerem Shalom crossing and the Erez checkpoint and the fires set over the past two weeks at the crossing are Hamas’ cynicism toward the civilians in Gaza,” said the IDF Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Maneles.

Lieberman tweet on attack in Gaza

On the expected protests this week in the area, Maneles added that Israel is “determined to stop mass breaching of the fence, and certainly to prevent a terror attackHamas intends to take advantage of these protests to launch terror events.”

Meanwhile, Hamas said that Israel’s attack Saturday night in the northern Gaza Strip was intended to deter and intimidate civilians ahead of the marches on Monday and Tuesday and the response will be that Palestinians will come out en masse to demand their rights.

In response to the attack, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Hamas is "spreading slogans about its desire for a long-term hudna," using the Arabic word for truce.

"In practice, it continues to dig terror tunnels into the territory of the State of Israel. We do not buy this bluff," he wrote on his Twitter account. "We will continue, in the evening, to strike at terrorist infrastructures. The only formula in question is demilitarization in exchange for rehabilitation," he added.

Shortly after the strike, Gaza's Health Ministry reported that a 15-year-old Palestinian died of wounds he sustained during Friday's protests along the border. The ministry identified him as Jamal Abu Arahman Afaneh. The development brings the death toll of Friday's protest up to two.

Earlier Saturday evening, Lieberman announced that Israel is closing the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip due to arson caused by Palestinian protesters along the border.

According to the Israeli army, the crossing will be closed except for humanitarian cases that will be approved on an individual basis. The crossing, the only one through which cargo passes from Israel to Gaza, will stay closed until the damage caused by the arson is repaired.

Palestinians protesting along the border Friday set fire to a pipeline through which Israel supplies gas and fuel to Gaza and a conveyor belt near the crossing, causing millions of shekels in damages.

This is the second consecutive week that demonstrators have set fire to the Palestinian side of the crossing.

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