Israel destroys new Hamas tunnel network in Gaza

Extensive Hamas tunnel network in Gaza points to Israeli intelligence failure. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Israel destroys new Hamas tunnel network in Gaza

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said on Sunday it destroyed a tunnel built by the Hamas militant group.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the new tunnel was intended to connect to an old one that Israel partially destroyed in the southern Gaza Strip during the 2014 war, in what appears to be the first case of Hamas trying to “recycle” part of its devastated network.
Conricus said Israel has been following Hamas’ progress for some time and that the targeted tunnels will now be impossible to rebuild. Conricus called it a “futile effort” by Hamas and a waste of resources that could be used to aid Gaza residents. The coastal territory had been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took over in 2007.
Israel has placed a high priority on halting the tunnel threat since Hamas infiltrated Israel during the 2014 war. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations caught Israel off guard, with one attack killing five soldiers, and terrified the local population.
This marks the fourth such tunnel Israel has destroyed over the past four months. The operation followed Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza over the weekend in response to bombs planted along the border that were detonated in an attempt to harm Israeli troops.
“Hamas has invested billions in its tunnel project and now it is sinking in the sand,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. “I suggest Hamas invest its money in the welfare of the people of Gaza because by the end of the year its entire tunnel project will be destroyed.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the Israeli action a further escalation that would not achieve its goals.
Israel has been hard at work erecting an ambitious subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels. Israeli military officials say the secretive project will be a major deterrent against what Israel has seen as a strategic threat since the last war against Hamas.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. During the most recent conflict in 2014, Israel destroyed 32 tunnels.


Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

Updated 53 min 7 sec ago
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Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

  • The IOM and EU are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home
  • 391 migrants from 16 west and central African countries had arrived in Assamaka

NIAMEY: Algeria has deported nearly 400 African migrants trying to reach Europe, sending them back over the Sahara desert into neighboring Niger, the UN migration agency (IOM) and Niger said on Sunday.
The IOM and European Union are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home, after thousands have died making the dangerous crossing to Europe across the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Many get stuck before ever reaching Africa’s northern coast, either in Libya, where they suffer slavery and abuse at the hands of militias, or Algeria.
IOM operations officer Livia Manente told Reuters in an email that the group of 391 migrants from 16 west and central African countries had arrived in the Nigerien town of Assamaka on Friday on about 20-30 vehicles, after being stopped while heading to work in various Algerian cities.
“They claim their phones were confiscated and that conditions were poor — not much food and water, crowded rooms),” she said. “They were transported in trucks after the locality of In Guezzam and then obliged to walk across the border ... including families with pregnant women and children.”
Aboubacar Ajouel, the mayor of Agadez, the last destination for the migrants, confirmed that they had arrived.
Algeria declined to confirm this particular deportation, but said that 20,000 migrants had been prevented from reaching Europe by Algerian authorities since January, thanks to security measures put in place at its borders with Mali and Niger.
“We have no choice but to prevent them,” Hassen Kacimi, director of Algeria’s interior ministry in charge of migration, told Reuters by telephone.