By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) — Israeli warplanes bombed a tunnel under the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt Monday, August 10, the first such attack in almost two months, the Israeli military said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the raid, in which there were no reported casualties, was in response to firing from Gaza and that Israel would respond to every shooting.

“We aren’t ready to accept rocket fire at our communities,” he said at a meeting in southern Israel with former Jewish settlers Israel removed from Gaza under a 2005 pullout.

“Our enemies should know this is our policy. We aren’t ready to absorb rocket fire on our settlements.”

Witnesses and officials of the Islamist group Hamas which rules the enclave confirmed the pre-dawn strike.

Gaza’s smuggling tunnels, which still number in the hundreds despite air attacks and an Egyptian crackdown in which some have been blown up or flooded, are a frequent target of Israeli retaliation for attacks by Gaza’s armed Palestinian groups.

The raid was Israel’s first aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip since June 18.

The aircraft had targeted a tunnel under the border at Rafah which was suspected of being used to smuggle explosives into Gaza from Egypt, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

ROCKETS AND MORTARS

Sunday, two mortar rounds were fired at Israel’s fortified Erez border crossing as medical patients going for treatment in Israel were being ferried out by ambulance.

The rounds exploded about 300 meters from the Erez wall in Palestinian territory but no one was hurt.

On the day before, a rocket fired from Gaza exploded in open ground on the Israeli side of the border.

Some smaller Gaza militant groups say Hamas has been trying to stop them firing rockets and mortars at Israel, which controls the delivery of fuel and food aid to the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the enclave.

Hamas wants Israel to lift its blockade and open the border crossings. Israel says Hamas must first release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whom it has held for three years.

Israel launched a ground and air offensive in Gaza in December in which some 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Israel said it was a response to daily rocket fire by Gaza militants directed at southern Israeli towns.

Thirteen Israelis were killed in the 22-day conflict.

Israel has frequently attacked tunnels it says are used to bring in weapons or materials to build weapons, though such raids have been fewer in the past couple of months.

The spokeswoman said some 240 rockets had been fired by Gaza fighters since the end of the offensive on January 18.


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