By Tom Ozimek
The Israeli military has announced the destruction of 9.3 miles of a so-called “terror tunnel” network used by Hamas forces as part of its effort to degrade the ability of terror groups to launch strikes against Israel.
“Our fighter jets neutralized 9.3 miles of the Hamas ‘Metro’ terror tunnel system overnight. That’s 9.3 miles that can no longer be used for terror,” according to a statement on the official Twitter account of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Monday.
Hostilities broke out last Monday, when Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Islamist terrorist groups fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem after weeks of clashes in the holy city between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police. Hamas said its rocket assault was in response to weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police responding to Palestinian protests.
In response, Israel has launched more than 1,000 precision air and artillery strikes aimed at Hamas and other targets that are often built close to civilian landmarks in the densely populated coastal strip.
Since Monday, 192 people, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. In Israel, 10 people, including one child, have been killed, according to Israel’s emergency response service.
In an update on Operation Guardian of the Walls, launched last Monday by the IDF in response to what it characterized as “non-stop rocket fire on Israeli civilians,” the Israeli military said over 820 terror targets had been struck and at least 130 terrorists had been neutralized, while over 3,150 rockets have been fired at Israel.
President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, reiterating his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against missile attacks.
“He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel” and “encouraged continued steps to hold violent extremists accountable and to establish calm,” according to a readout of the call released by the White House.
Netanyahu told CBS News on Sunday that Israel would act decisively to protect its people and restore calm.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet, and on the security of our people in deterrence. We’re trying to degrade Hamas’s terrorist abilities, and to degrade their will to do this again,” the longtime prime minister said, adding that he hopes the conflict doesn’t last long.
Besides destroying miles of the “terror tunnels,” the Israeli military also said it had struck nine houses in different parts of northern Gaza that belonged to “high-ranking commanders” in Hamas.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) led a group of 29 senators in calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement.
“To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire,” the senators said in a joint statement.