Death toll rises to 7 in Israeli army blast at Gaza tunnel

The operation followed an announcement Sunday by UNRWA, the United Nations agency tasked with aiding Palestinian refugees, which said it had found a tunnel under a school it operates in the Gaza Strip.

Those known to be have killed were rescue teams that entered the tunnel to save their fellow terrorists, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters the tunnel was discovered in Israeli territory, near the border fence, opposite the city of Khan Younis.

Most belonged to Islamic Jihad, one of several groups in Gaza that are classified as terrorist organizations by the US and European Union.

Israeli soldiers sit on a tank close to the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 30, 2017, near Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel.

"The explosion took place inside Israeli territory".

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday credited Israel's "groundbreaking technology" for the discovery of the tunnel without giving further details.


Asked by reporters if Hamas, rather than another armed faction, had dug it, Conricus said: "I can not confirm that".

Security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Israeli army bombarded with several bombs a tunnel that was dug underneath the borderline area between southeast Gaza Strip and Israel.

"Locating the tunnel of terror is part of an extensive defense effort led by IDF forces since the end of Operation Protective Edge, and the IDF continues its activities through various means available to it and is constantly improving".

Monday's operation came as Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah seek to follow through on a reconciliation deal signed earlier this month aimed at ending a decade-long rift between them.

Today, Hamas will turn over control over control of the Rafah border crossing, the only entry point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

During the war, 32 tunnels were discovered, including 14 that extended into Israel, according to a United Nations report on the conflict.


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