smuggling tunnel rafah 298.
(photo credit: )
The IAF struck weapons smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor, in the southern Gaza Strip. early Wednesday morning
The strikes came in response to two barrels containing explosive devices washing ashore on beaches in Ashkelon and Ashdod Monday. Both were destroyed by police sappers.
"The IDF will continue to operate with determintation and force against those who use terror against Israel, and hold Hamas responsible [for the attempted attack]," an army statement read.Related articles:Editorial: A new front?Navy on high alert as more floating bombs fearedJerusalem Arabs arrested for Hamas reconHamas official: Israel infiltrated Hamas leadership
The Al-Arabiya network, however, reported that the goal of the IAF strike was to damage the Gaza airport, and claimed several people were wounded in the attack.
Dozens of policemen resumed searches for additional explosive barrels after sunrise on Wednesday and the public was asked to stay off the beaches from Ashdod to Zikim for a second day running.
Abu Saed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza faction with close ties to Hamas, said the attack was meant to avenge the killing last month of Mahmoud Mabhouh, a veteran Hamas operative. Hamas says Israeli Mossad agents ambushed al-Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room, immobilized him with an electrical shock and strangled him to death.
"We confirm that there are still many of these charges in the ocean, and they haven't exploded yet," Abu Saed said, standing alongside five other gunmen in military fatigues.
While three terrorist groups – Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance
Committees and Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades – claimed responsibility
for the explosives barrels discovered Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu hinted on Tuesday that Israel would hold Hamas responsible
for the attempted attack.
“We view very seriously the Hamas activities that came from Gaza,
actions which just by coincidence did not extract a price on human life
... We view this very gravely and will respond in time,” Netanyahu said.Yaakov Katz , Yaakov Lappin and AP contributed to this report