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(photo credit: AP)
IAF aircraft bombed a terror tunnel near the Karni goods crossing in the northern Gaza Strip early Tuesday in what appeared to be the first response to Monday's suicide bombing in Eilat, which killed three Israelis.
No casualties were reported in the airstrike, which was the first IDF action within the Gaza Strip since the cease-fire took effect two months ago.
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The IDF said Palestinian terrorists intended to use the tunnel to carry out an attack against Israeli citizens "in the immediate future." The strike was approved by the political echelon, according to an IDF statement.
Security officials said secondary explosions were seen after the airstrike, indicating that there were explosives in the tunnel.
"The terrorist organizations continue to act against the interest of the Palestinian population and make cynical use of the area of the Karni crossing, which serves as one of the main lifelines of the Palestinian population - allowing the passage of merchandise and medical supplies in and out of the Gaza Strip," a statement from the IDF read.
"The IDF will continue to use all resources at its disposal to strike at the terror infrastructure within the Gaza Strip in order to ensure the security of Israeli citizens."
On Monday night, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF to prepare plans to target Palestinian terror organizations and Islamic Jihad terror chiefs in the Gaza Strip as a response to the suicide attack in Eilat on Monday morning.
The IDF also immediately reinforced troops along Israel's fenceless border with Egypt, which security officials said the bomber used to infiltrate into Israel.
"We will not make any discounts for terror groups, and the cease-fire will not prevent us from targeting them," Peretz said following a security assessment with senior defense officials, including outgoing IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz.
During the meeting, Peretz called for an end to the government's policy of restraint, claiming that it was time to strike back at Palestinian terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip with the IDF's full force.
In the first suicide attack in Israel's popular southern resort town, a suicide bomber, identified as Islamic Jihad operative Mohammed Saksak, 20, of Gaza City, blew himself up at a bakery in a shopping center in Eilat's Ha'arava neighborhood, killing three.
The victims were identified late Monday night as the two owners of the bakery - Amil Almalich, 32, and Michael Ben-Sa'adon, 27, both married with children - and one of their employees, Israel Samolia, 26, from Peru.
Ben-Sa'adon will be laid to rest at the cemetery in his hometown of Acre at 3 p.m. Tuesday.