Israel appears to be responsible for a series of bombings over the last two days, according to separate reports by the New York Times and USA Today.
The NYT article, published today, has Israeli military strikes killing four Hamas militants near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Considered the deadliest confrontation since the Israeli offensive of November 2012, the fighting started last night when elite Israeli engineers were trying to destroy a mile-long tunnel that they suspected was being used to conduct guerrilla warfare.
Although they found the tunnel last month, Israeli forces intended to close in from both sides of the border; as the gap narrowed, Hamas forces set off an improvised explosive that wounded five Israelis. Officials and witnesses of that firefight said an Israeli tank shell killed one militant and injured several others.
A second strike in southern Gaza was carried out early this morning against a second tunnel, this one described as a “terror tunnel.” Three militants were killed in that fight, but despite outward appearances, the Israeli military described both actions as defensive in nature, and a response to Hamas’ breaking of the cease-fire.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said “This mission was imperative due to the potential to utilize the terror tunnel for future attacks against Israeli civilians… Hamas, as the authority in the Gaza Strip, is accountable and responsible for all activities aimed at harming Israeli civilians and I.D.F. soldiers.”
On the other side, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said “We salute the heroic fending-off by our holy fighters and we salute the martyrs… [Gaza will be] nothing but a hell burning the occupation.”
The USA Today report described a third operation on the Syrian front, in which Israeli warplanes bombed several targets that were likely to be missile systems in-transit to Hezbollah militants.
An Israeli official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, noted that between two and four jets were targeting a Russian-made cache of SA-125 missiles. The official spoke anonymously because the Israeli government had not granted permission for the Hezbollah strike to be discussed.
[Image via CIA World Factbook/Wikimedia Commons]