The IDF responded to threats by terrorist groups in Gaza to seek revenge for the deaths of 12 terrorists, including a senior figure in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, in the destruction of a series of terrorist tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel.
According to the IDF spokesperson's office, the military did not set out to kill terrorists, let alone senior officials in terrorist organizations, during the destruction of the tunnels.
IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Ronen Manlis stated that "The operation in which a terrorist tunnel was bombed this afternoon was carried out in Israeli territory. The intention was for the explosion to knock the tunnel out of commission."
"The IDF did not use any explosives or materials that are forbidden for use. The officials arrived only to rescue those who were trapped inside [the tunnel]. And they were hit by the explosives in the tunnel.
He noted that the IDF does not catalogue tunnels by the terrorist group that dug them. and that it views Hamas as responsible for all terrorist activity inside the Gaza Strip.
Addressing the destroyed tunnel, Manlis said that "the defense establishment knew about the tunnel for some time and their sole intention was to destroy a tunnel that had crossed beneath the fence into Israeli territory."
A security source added that "the relations between Hamas and Jihad are complex. This is the first time we've seen a tunnel dug by Islamic Jihad, so it is something new."
The Gaza envelope was declared a closed military zone following the destruction of the tunnel, according to a report by Channel 2.
Israel has been in contact with Egypt over the last several hours, assuring the Egyptian government and military that the destruction of the tunnel was a purely defensive measure which was carried out entirely within Israeli territory.