Israeli jets destroy tunnel near Egypt-Gaza border

Palestinian protesters wave national flags during clashes with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City near the border with Israel

Palestinian protesters wave national flags during clashes with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City near the border with Israel

The Israeli forces have conducted an airstrike hitting a target in the southern Gaza Strip, the army's press service said Sunday.

The strike came amidst an escalation between Gaza and Israel following U.S. President Donald Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6 past year.

Israeli military spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel belonged to Palestinian Militant movement Hamas and was intended for attacks as opposed to smuggling. To press that point home, there will be a closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, as a necessary security measure.

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. Fishermen from Gaza are known to bring in catch from Egyptian territory as a way of sidestepping restrictions imposed by an Israeli naval blockade. Every day roughly 500 trucks, carrying goods from the West Bank and Israel, pass through it and into the coastal enclave, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on its website.

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He said the tunnel's route stretched underneath the Kerem Shalom crossing, where 15 million tons of food, clothing, construction material and other essential goods had been transferred into Gaza since the 2014 war.

Escalation could easily occur, even though both sides have signalled they do not want that to happen.

"There are those who have said the IDF just targeted sand dunes - this is incorrect", he said, in an apparent hint at the claims that a Hamas tunnel had been destroyed in the strike.

Israel has now confirmed that it attacked and destroyed the Gaza Channel that stretches into Egypt.

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The Israeli military said it has destroyed three such tunnels in the past two months, but that it was not seeking escalation. "Hamas must understand that we will not allow these attacks to continue and that we will respond with even greater force", he told reporters before boarding a flight to India.

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

He said he was not aware of any casualties from the destruction of the tunnel, which was still being built.

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