Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel under Israel, Egypt borders

A damaged mosque minaret is seen as Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a protest. (Reuters)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel under Israel, Egypt borders

GAZA: The Israeli military said on Sunday it had destroyed a cross-border attack tunnel that ran from Gaza into Israel and Egypt, dug by the Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian enclave.
Residents in Gaza said Israeli jets bombed an area east of the southern town of Rafah, by the Egyptian and Israeli borders, late on Saturday night. Israel confirmed the attack immediately after, but gave no details until Sunday.
“We understand this was a terror tunnel because it runs underneath strategic facilities,” Israeli military spokesman Col. Jonathan Conricus said, referring to gas and fuel pipelines, as well as an army position it ran under.
“It could also have served to transfer terrorists from the Gaza strip into Egypt in order to attack Israeli targets from Egypt.”
Hamas did not comment.
Conricus said the tunnel destroyed Saturday was dug by key operatives of Hamas and was 1.5 km long (about one mile), penetrating 180 kilometers under the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Israel and into Egypt.
“It is definitely a possibility that an attack was imminent,” Conricus said, but would not elaborate further.
Kerem Shalom, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, was shut down on Saturday before the Israeli attack.
Tensions have risen in the region Since President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy on Dec. 6 by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinians in Gaza have launched 18 cross-border rockets or mortars and 15 protesters and two gunmen have been killed by Israeli fire.
Escalation could easily occur, even though both sides have signalled they do not want that to happen.
During the last Gaza war, in 2014, Hamas fighters used dozens of tunnels to blindside Israel’s superior forces and threaten civilian communities near the frontier.
The Israeli military said it has destroyed three such tunnels in the past two months, but that it was not seeking escalation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the tunnel was a “major terrorism infrastructure belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “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 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, aiming to complete the $1.1 billion project by mid-2019.


Iraq parliament approves ministers but deadlock over security posts

Updated 18 December 2018
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Iraq parliament approves ministers but deadlock over security posts

  • Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has now filled 17 posts in his cabinet of 22 ministers
  • Deadlock remains over the five empty posts including the key ministers of defense and interior

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament approved three new ministers Tuesday but broke up before voting on the five remaining posts.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has now filled 17 posts in his cabinet of 22 ministers. 

But deadlock remains over the five empty posts including the key ministers of defense and interior.

The other 14 were approved by parliament in late October.