Israel hits Gaza tunnels in response to barrel bombs

Israel hits Gaza tunnels in response to barrel bombs

JERUSALEM — Israel destroyed two Gaza smuggling tunnels in response to Hamas’ attempt to attack Israeli targets in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel’s Air Force on Tuesday night struck the tunnels used by Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

On Wednesday, a third explosives-laden barrel released by Palestinian terrorists washed up on the beach at Palmachim, in central Israel. Also, a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza landed near Sderot in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries.

One of the tunnels hit was used for the infiltration of terrorists into Israel and the other for smuggling weapons, according to the IDF. Three Gazan Palestinians were injured in the attack, according to Palestinian reports.

The IDF said the strike was in retaliation for Hamas’ attempt to blow up Israeli targets in the Mediterranean using explosives-laden barrels, two of which washed up Monday on the shores of southern Israeli beaches in Ashdod and Ashkelon. Several others reportedly exploded in the sea last Friday.

The attack also was in retaliation for a rocket shot Tuesday from Gaza at a civilian area in southern Israel, the IDF said. No injuries or damage were reported. Some 19 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza last month.

Israeli police continue to patrol beaches looking for additional explosives, and have called on the public to be alert for suspicious objects, Haaretz reported. Police also are using helicopters to look for more explosives. They are concerned that storms predicted for the rest of the week will wash other barrels ashore.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Abu Saed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza faction with close ties to Hamas, said that many unexploded barrel bombs are still in the sea. Saed said the attack was to avenge the assassination last month of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room. Hamas has accused Israel of the murder.