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Israel warns Gaza groups against revenge attack after tunnel destruction

Israel killed ten Islamic Jihad fighters in a deadly tunnel attack last month. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 November, 2017

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian groups in Gaza against carrying out revenge attacks after Israel's army blew up a tunnel last month, killing twelve Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian groups in Gaza against carrying out revenge attacks on Sunday, after Israel's army blew up a tunnel last month.

At least twelve Palestinians were killed in an explosion on 30 October after the Israeli army destroyed a tunnel, which it said was in the process of being dug from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, which borders Israel.

Two of the dead belonged to the military wing of Hamas, with the other 10 from Islamic Jihad.

Israel is holding the bodies of five militants killed in the deadly tunnel bombing.

"There are still those who toy with trying new attacks on Israel," Netanyahu said at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting.

"We will react forcefully to whoever tries to attack us or attacks us from any arena. I mean anyone - rebel factions, organisations, anyone," he said in an apparent reference to Islamic Jihad. 

"In any case, we hold Hamas responsible for any attack against us originating from Gaza or organised there".

The Islamic Jihad group had earlier threatened to hit back at Israel over the destruction of the tunnel.

Netanyahu's remarks came on the heels of a Saturday night Arabic-language video issued by Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of a defence ministry unit responsible for activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

"We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group is planning against Israel," said Mordechai, whose defence ministry unit is known as COGAT. 

"Let it be clear: Any attack by Islamic Jihad will be met with a harsh and determined Israeli response. This will not only apply to Islamic Jihad but also to Hamas".

Mordechai also addressed the Damascus-based Islamic Jihad leadership, mentioning Ramadan Shalah and Ziad Nakhaleh by name.

He called on them to "take control over the situation," as they are the ones "who will be held accountable" for any attack.

Islamic Jihad rejected Mordechai's message, saying "the enemy's threat to target the leaders of the movement" was "a declaration of war".

"We will respond to it," the militant movement said in a Sunday statement, stressing it had "the right to respond" to the blowing up of the tunnel.

Tunnels dug by Hamas were a key issue in the last war with Israel in 2014, but discoveries of those stretching into the Jewish state have since been rare.

The two have fought three wars since 2008, while the Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza which it says is necessary to constrain Hamas.

Israel launched its 2014 operation in Gaza with the stated objectives of halting rocket fire and destroying attack tunnels into Israel.

During the war, 32 tunnels were discovered, including 14 that extended into Israel, according to a UN report on the conflict.

Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade for over a decade, with humanitarian groups warning that the coastal territory will be "unliveable" by 2020.


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