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Israel Army Confirms Gaza Attack Destroyed Hamas Cross-border Tunnel
14 January 2018, 12:14 | Erica Roy
Locals watch the funeral procession on Saturday
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on Sunday it had destroyed a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel - the third in recent months - that penetrated hundreds of meters into both Israeli and Egyptian territory from the Gaza Strip, in an airstrike on Saturday night.
In its earlier statement, the army added, "The Hamas terror organization is accountable for all activity in and from the Gaza strip".
The target struck was a tunnel that passed below the Kerem Shalom crossing.
The tunnel destroyed early Saturday morning is believed to have been a Hamas tunnel which stretched for nearly a kilometer running under the Kerem Shalom crossing near the gas pipeline and continued into Egyptian territory.
Last year, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot responded to criticism that the military was targeting "sand dunes and empty bunkers" in its strikes in Gaza, telling the Knesset that the IDF is actively thwarting the tunnels and publicly acknowledging for the first time that the army has the technology to do so.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the tunnel was a "main Hamas infrastructure".
On the Israeli side, the exit of the tunnel was adjacent to the Kerem Shalom crossing, as well as to the crossing's communications center, and a natural gas installation.
The military said that it has no intention to further escalate the situation but will "continue to act against any violation of Israeli sovereignty". "Hamas needs to understand that we will not allow these offensives, and that we will respond with even greater might". The destruction of the terror tunnel network is an essential component of our systematic policy to harm Hamas's strategic capabilities.
On Saturday evening the army informed the Palestinians that it would temporarily close the Kerem Shalom crossing for all traffic starting Sunday morning.
Israel has been constructing a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km Gaza border, aiming to complete the $1.1 billion project by mid-2019.
The rockets were launched by Salafi groups and the Islamic Jihad, but the military maintains that Hamas should be held responsible for any hostility from the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Similar clashes took place in 17 different locations within the West Bank, the IDF said, while also continuing efforts to catch the perpetrators of a terrorist attack which killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach on a West Bank road last Tuesday.
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