Israel Warns Hamas, Islamic Jihad Against Tunnel-Demolition Revenge Actions

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel tunnel
Construction vehicles operate while searching for missing or dead terrorists near the blown-up tunnel in October. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Some two weeks after the IDF blew up a tunnel that Gaza terrorists had dug underground into Israeli territory, killing at least seven and wounding as many as a dozen terrorists in the process, Israeli security officials issued a warning to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, saying that Israel would react sharply against all Gaza terror groups if any of them tried to take vengeance against Israel for eliminating the tunnel and the terrorists.

In the wake of the demolition of the tunnel, Israel “is aware of plots by Islamic Jihad against us,” a statement by IDF Southern Commander General Yoav Mordechai said. The terror group “is playing with fire on the backs of Gaza residents, and at the expense of its reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. It is endangering the entire region. It should be clear that Israel will respond with determination and power to any response by Islamic Jihad, and not just against Islamic Jihad but against Hamas as well. We would recommend that Islamic Jihad be cautious in its actions.”

The demolition of the tunnel in an area along the Gaza border fence led to an increased security situation throughout southern Israel, as Islamic Jihad and other terror groups swore vengeance against Israel for the death of terrorists who were in the tunnel when the IDF destroyed it. As many as a dozen terrorists were killed, among them top members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades. Reports from Gaza said that several of the terrorists had been killed due to “poison gas” that Israel sent into the tunnel.

“This Israeli crime is a dangerous escalation against our people and their resistance, and an abortive attempt aiming to foil the ongoing Palestinian efforts to achieve internal reconciliation,” Hamas said in response to the attack. “We reiterate our people’s right to defend themselves and confront the Israeli Occupation by all means available.”

Security officials said that it believed that Islamic Jihad was planning a major terror attack in response to the incident. Israel is holding five bodies of terrorists that were in the tunnel when it was demolished. Among those killed were top Islamic Jihad terrorist Arafat Marshad, head of the group’s military wing, and his deputy Hassan Abu Hasnin. Responding to the Israeli warning, Islamic Jihad said Sunday that “Israeli threats are the result of fear and concern over the Palestinian response to their crimes.”