Death Toll From Collapsed Gaza Tunnel Rises to 12

GAZA (Reuters) -
An entrance to a terror tunnel just outside the southern Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Amir Cohen, File)

The Islamic Jihad terror group said on Friday that five of its members had been killed earlier this week when Israel blew up a cross-border tunnel being dug by terrorists from the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the strike to 12.

Israel pointed out that its action was carried out on its own side of the border.

Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the dominant terror group in Gaza that had said earlier it lost two people in the tunnel collapse, have sworn to retaliate.

Israel has been constructing a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, aiming to complete the $1.1 billion project by mid-2019.

During the last Gaza war, in 2014, Hamas fighters used dozens of tunnels to blindside Israel’s forces and threaten civilian communities near the frontier, a counterpoint to the Iron Dome antimissile system that largely protected the country’s heartland from rocket barrages.

Israel and the United States have called for Hamas to be disarmed as part of the pact between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, so Israeli peace efforts with Abbas, which collapsed in 2014, could proceed. Hamas has rejected the demand.