Tension on Gaza Border After Tunnel Blast

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli soldier jumps out of a tank near the border with Gaza on Monday. The area was tense after the IDF destroyed a tunnel dug by terror groups that entered Israeli territory. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israeli forces were on alert Monday night as the death toll in the Gaza tunnel destroyed by the IDF earlier in the day continued to rise and terrorists in the Hamas-ruled enclave threatened armed reprisal.

Twelve were reported dead, several others wounded, and the number of killed was expected to reach as many as 18 before it’s all over.

The identity of those killed, as well as those who dug the tunnel that reached from Gaza deep into Israeli territory, was still being sorted out as of 8:40 p.m. Israel time.

Two of those killed were members of the pro-Iranian Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and a third was a Hamas field commander affiliated with the Nukhba commando unit, according to a Gaza source cited by Ynet.

Indications so far are that the tunnel was dug by the PIJ, though the group did not claim responsibility for it. However, the group was calling for a military response to the Israeli tunnel action.

Hamas was said to be urging caution and coordination with Egypt in order to avoid upsetting the fragile Palestinian unity deal.

Meanwhile, Israel deployed its Iron Dome rocket interceptors in the south and declared a closed military zone near the Gaza border as a precaution against possible Palestinian rocket fire.

Palestinian Authority media report that in the past few hours there has been significant movement of Israeli aircraft in the skies around Gaza.