IDF strikes “terrorist infrastructure” near Gaza-Egypt border
The IDF struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Saturday, as IAF fighter jets targeted a “terrorist infrastructure” near the Gaza-Egypt border. Since December, the IDF has been targeting terrorist tunnels inside the Gaza strip with targeted attacks, often in response to rocket fire. IDF forces are believed to have destroyed four terror tunnels since late October, targeting one in October, one in December, and two in January.
Palestinian media reports the strike targeted a tunnel.
The IDF announced earlier this evening it would be closing the Kerem Shalom crossing after an assessment of the current security situation, but did not provide further details.
In December, both the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings into Israel were closed “in light of security events.” Earlier this week, a Gaza Strip resident was killed during protests at the border fence with Israel.
“The terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip,” the statement said.
In early January Israel struck what is referred to as “significant terror infrastructure” in the southern Gaza Strip following three mortar shells which were fired towards Israel.
A statement released by the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit stated that the airstrikes targeted a “central terror infrastructure” and while Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything that occurs in the Strip, the statement did not mention the group ruling the enclave.
The IDF also did not elaborate on the exact nature of the target struck except saying that “the IDF will continue to use all the measures at its disposal, above and below ground, to thwart attacks against Israelis,” adding that it is “prepared and ready for a variety of scenarios
More than 40 projectiles have been fired at southern Israel since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.
Several have been intercepted, including one over Ashkelon some 20 kilometers from Gaza, and a number have slammed into Israeli territory.
Retaliation by the IDF, usually in the form of artillery fire and/or air strikes, often targets Hamas outposts which tend to be evacuated by the terrorist group before the strikes.
Israel’s military has been investing extensive effort in locating cross-border tunnels from Gaza and has been building a ground-breaking underground barrier across the entire border with the Hamas-run enclave. In November, head of the Southern Command Maj.- Gen. Eyal Zamir stated that while the barrier is being built entirely in Israeli territory, “this wall can potentially lead to a dangerous escalation.”
In addition to the underground barrier, the IDF also has a new system to detect and destroy tunnels – a collaboration between advanced technology and various engineering, intelligence and ground forces units.
Since late October, Israel has discovered two cross-border attack tunnels, one belonging to Hamas and one belonging to Islamic Jihad, inside Israeli territory, and it is likely that the strikes on Thursday targeted one such tunnel belonging to one of the groups inside the Gaza Strip.
In addition, three Palestinians who crossed the border fence from Gaza were arrested Saturday evening.
Maj. General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai blamed Hamas for sending young Palestinians to protest on the Gaza border in a tweet Saturday morning, writing, “The Hamas terrorist organization sends young #Palestinian civilians to engage in violent protests on the border of #Gaza, equipping them with Hamas manufactured hand grenades. Meanwhile, Hamas hides behind these youth and claims that the protests are spontaneous and nonviolent.”
The Hamas terrorist organization sends young #Palestinian civilians to engage in violent protests on the border of #Gaza, equipping them with Hamas manufactured hand grenades. Meanwhile, Hamas hides behind these youth and claims that the protests are spontaneous and nonviolent. pic.twitter.com/vvHNGzCelJ
— COGAT (@cogat_israel) January 13, 2018
The IDF announced last week that more rockets were fired at Israel in 2017 than in the prior two years.