During another Israel Defense Force ground invasion inside the Gaza Strip on Friday, Israel has made its intentions clear saying military forces will target tunnels that Hamas has built to infiltrate into Israel territory and to store weapons.
An infiltration that was narrowly thwarted on Thursday occurred when 13 Hamas gunmen emerged from a tunnel located near an Israeli farming community. All 13 militants were killed by Israeli military when they were seen coming out of the tunnel.
The Israeli military ground invasion into the Gaza Strip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday will be a “significant expansion.”
According to The New York Times, Israeli troops have uncovered more than 20 tunnel exit points on Friday located about a mile of Gaza’s northern, southern and eastern territory.
It was last Sunday when the Israeli military discovered an underground tunnel dug out by Hamas militants who the Israeli military said would use to attack or kidnap Israelis.
Defiant over Israel’s discovery of the tunnel, a Hamas military spokesman in Gaza, Abu Obeida said on his Twitter account that “thousands” more tunnels will continue to be dug out. The tunnels have been in operation for years as a way to escape to Egypt as a lifeline for the people in Gaza which is home to 1.7 million Palestinians.
During the first day of the ground operations earlier this week, the Israeli military said it uncovered ten tunnels.
Former national security adviser to Netanyahu, Yaakov Amidror said, “This operation is very limited geographically,” Amidror said. “Most of the operation will not take place in crowded areas with a lot of population, but areas used for agriculture. The land operation, it’s very easy to see where it will be finished. If nothing bad will happen, we will identify the locations of the tunnels, we will blow them up, and we will retreat.”
Meanwhile President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority traveled from Cairo to Istanbul on Friday for ceasefire negotiations.
Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian analyst said its good that Abbas is more involved with a possible ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. “The fact that Abbas is involved this time, unlike all previous cases, could mean something,” Shikaki said. “He does not have a lot of leverage here, but the little he has might allow for a three-way deal — Hamas, Abbas and the Israelis. That’s the way things might be smoother than to wait for the battlefield itself to determine the outcome, which could take a very, very long time, and a great deal of bloodshed.”