Netanyahu warns of extended operation after soldiers killed in tunnel attack


In a televised address, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country must be prepared for an extended military operation in Gaza with the immediate goal to destroy the network of tunnels constructed by Hamas to launch attacks on Israel.

Netanyahu said that, “Hamas is a cruel enemy, not only to us, but to their own citizens … there is no war more just than this one” and warned that there would be more difficult days ahead in what may be a “prolonged” campaign. Speaking alongside Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Netanyahu emphasised, “We will not end the operation in Gaza without neutralizing the terror tunnels,” explaining, “The action against the tunnels is a first and necessary step to the demilitarization of Gaza,” which he said “needs to be part of any solution” to the conflict. Netanyahu urged “the international community must aggressively demand that.”

His comments came shortly after five Israeli soldiers were killed by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into Israel via a tunnel near Kibbutz Nahal Oz and fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF position. Earlier in the day, a mortar round fired from Gaza into the Eshkol region killed four soldiers, while an additional Givati infantryman was killed in combat within the Gaza Strip. A total of 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel launched a ground incursion a week and a half ago.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to locate and dismantle the complex network of tunnels in Gaza, from which Hamas has launched numerous attacks against Israel. The IDF estimated yesterday that it has destroyed around 60 per cent of the tunnels. Among those discovered yesterday, one was eight metres deep, another over a mile long.

In addition, 51 rockets and mortars were fired yesterday into Israel with 6 intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Overnight, rockets were fired at the Tel Aviv area.