An Israeli demolition squad blew up a terror tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel Monday, killing at least seven members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including a senior commander.
The tunnel began in the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip and extended nearly to the southern Israeli community of Kissufim.
The IDF neutralized a Gazan terror tunnel today. This is what you need to know: pic.twitter.com/P47nhO2WGO
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) October 30, 2017
An Israeli spokesman said the mission was designed to destroy the tunnel, not to kill people, and that most of those killed were suffocated when they rushed in to help others trapped inside.
Any threat to Israeli sovereignty will be met with determination and vigor pic.twitter.com/Yp9Lm5775F
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) October 31, 2017
Iran's Foreign Minister Zahran Qasemi condemned the tunnel destruction. "The bloodthirsty Zionist regime is trying to bend the will of the oppressed people of the occupied territories by killing Palestinian youths," Qasemi said.
But Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned they will not tolerate smuggling tunnels for weapons transfers or for committing acts of terror against residents of southern Israel.
"I told you many times that we are developing groundbreaking technology to deal with the tunnel threat," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained. "We shall continue to protect Israel's borders."
Islamic Jihad, with 10,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip, has threatened retaliation. But so far Hamas has remained silent. Hamas leaders recently concluded a unity agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Part of the deal calls for Hamas to give up political control of the Gaza Strip, but it has shown no sign of disbanding its military wing, more than 25,000 strong.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the tunnel threat "proves that despite Palestinian unity, the Gaza Strip remains a terrorist kingdom and, for us, there is no doubt Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is responsible."