Amid persistent Palestinian rocket attacks, Israel targets tunnels
Amid persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns, Israel fired artillery and mounted extensive air strikes on Friday against a network of Palestinian militant tunnels under Gaza that it dubbed “the Metro”,
A spokesman of the Israeli military said that while ground forces had taken part in the 40-minute, pre-dawn offensive, none had crossed into the Gaza Strip, as hostilities entered their fifth day with no sign of abating.
Northern Gaza Health officials have disclosed that a woman and her three children were killed during the Israeli operation and that their bodies were recovered from the rubble of their home.
Rocket barrages against southern Israel swiftly followed the Israeli strikes, which the spokesman said included artillery and tank fire from inside Israeli territory.
The current fighting, which is the most serious between Israel and Gaza militants since 2014 started on Monday after the enclave’s ruling Hamas group fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
According to Palestinian medical officials, at least 119 have been killed in Gaza, including 31 children and 19 women, and 830 others wounded in the current hostilities.
While the number of people who died in Israel stood at eight: a soldier patrolling the Gaza border, six Israeli civilians – including a an elderly woman who fell on the way to a shelter on Friday and two children – and an Indian worker, Israeli authorities said.
In northern and eastern parts of Gaza, the sound of artillery fire and explosions echoed early on Friday. Witnesses said many families living near the border left their homes, some seeking shelter at United Nations-run schools.
An Israeli military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said 160 aircraft as well as artillery and armoured units, “not inside the Gaza Strip”, had taken part in what he called the largest operation against a specific target since the fighting began.
“What we were targeting is an elaborate system of tunnels that spans underneath Gaza, mostly in the north but not limited to, and is a network that the operatives of Hamas use in order to move, in order to hide, for cover,” he said in a briefing to foreign reporters
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