The Israeli Air Force bombed a Gaza smuggling tunnel in the pre-dawn hours Monday, several months after the U.S. and Europe promised to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons. The operation was carried out in retaliation for three mortar attacks and one rocket attack in the Western Negev on Sunday.
Two mortar rounds landed near an ambulance carrying Gaza Arabs to an Israeli hospital, a practice that Hamas often tries to prevent.
The targeted tunnel was located under the city of Rafiah, which straddles the border dividing Gaza and Egypt. Foreign media described the Israeli counterterrorist maneuver as being carried out by “warplanes.” No injuries were reported.
A sharp escalation in attacks on major Israeli cities last November and December led to the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign. The Olmert government agreed to end the retaliation after the U.S. signed an agreement to place monitors and personnel to prevent smuggling of weapons through tunnels from Egypt to Gaza.
More than 200 rockets and mortars have been fired on Israel since the end of Cast Lead, military spokesmen said.
Military intelligence and Israeli security officials told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee this week that Hamas is using the tunnels to smuggle into Gaza improved Kassam rockets that can reach metropolitan Tel Aviv. Hamas reportedly has carried out at least two tests of the rockets, which were fired towards the Mediterranean Sea.