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.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.