Tensions rose Tuesday after an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel from the Gaza Strip killed seven Palestinian militants in one of the deadliest incidents since a devastating 2014 war. The seven men, from the armed wings of Gaza’s rulers Hamas and allied group Islamic Jihad, were killed Monday when Israel blew up the tunnel it said had crossed into its territory and was intended for attacks. They were being buried Tuesday in their respective neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya appeared at a funeral in central Gaza attended by a few thousand people, witnesses said, while senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Hayya spoke at one in the southern part of the strip. “(Hamas) knows how to manage the conflict with the enemy and how to get revenge and strike at the time and place that hurts the enemy,” Hayya said, according to a statement.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008 and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to carry out attacks. Israel said it had been monitoring the digging of the tunnel for an unspecified length of time and was forced to act after “the grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty.” It said the operation was carried out on the Israeli side of the border and stressed it was not seeking a further escalation.