PNN / Bethlehem
The spokesperson for the IOF announced on Sunday that Israeli forces had sealed off two Hamas tunnels late Saturday night.
According to the IOF, one of the tunnels had been sealed off from inside of Israel, in the Kerem Shalom area near the Gaza border.
The second tunnel was reportedly in the process of being reopened by Hamas and was located in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
The official twitter account for the IOF Spokesperson tweeted on Sunday that ‘the attempt to renew the terror tunnel shows that Hamas finds it difficult to accept the collapse of the tunnel project and continues to waste the funds desperately needed for the residents of the Gaza Strip.
‘Hamas remains responsible for everything happening in the Gaza Strip.’
The statement claims that operations to locate and dismantle tunnelling operations from within the Gaza Strip had been intensified in the last six months.
The Spokesperson regarded the operations as having been ongoing since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The deadly incursion in Gaza by Israeli forces predominantly featured operations to dismantle tunnelling operations as a main prong in their efforts to neutralize attacks stemming from Gaza; the other being rocket cross-border strikes.
Despite tensions simmering in Gaza after a number of high profile incidents in the preceding months, the statement claims that ‘the IDF does not wish to escalate the situation, but we stand ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios.’
Israeli Airforce fighters also struck positions in southern and central Gaza Saturday night in retaliation for the a bomb detonation near the Gaza/Israel border.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis on Sunday said that ‘it doesn’t matter who placed the IED on the fence. Hamas is responsible for everything that goes on in the Strip. Israel will not allow Hamas to use the Gaza fence as a staging ground for attacks.’
‘Hamas invests enormous resources in building underground terror tunnels instead of investing in the Gaza Strip and providing welfare to its residents. The attempt to rebuild the tunnel shows that Hamas finds it difficult to accept the collapse of the tunnel project and continues to waste the money needed for Gaza residents to breathe,’ Manelis stated.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu similarily criticised Hamas in a statement reading, ‘the time has come for the international community to recognize that the aid money for Gaza gets buried underground,’ he stated.
Hamas issued a statement to its Twitter account on Sunday condemning Israel’s acts of aggression.
‘The continuous Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip and targeting the resistance sites is a pre-emptive Israeli attempt to destabilise the enclave and terrorise its residents in order to undermine the Great March or Return and Breaking the Siege,’ the statement read.
‘Hamas stresses that this will never be achieved, but instead will be an incentive for our people to insist on their plan, go ahead towards the Green Line, thwart all the occupation plans and regain the stolen rights on top of which the right to return and break the siege.
‘Hamas blames the Israeli occupation for the repercussions of its continuous escalation against the Palestinians, as well as of its attempts to harm Palestinians’ life.’