Thursday, September 24, 2020

Israel holds remains of Palestinians ransom after Gaza tunnel blast

By Rhiannon F. - November 10, 2017
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza]

Israel continues to deny the search of Gaza tunnels for the remains of members of Hamas' military wing and Islamic Jihad, demanding the return of Israeli soldiers allegedly held in Gaza since the 2014 war.

On October 30, the Israeli army blew up a Hamas-built tunnel, stretching from Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, towards Kibbutz Kissufim in Israel, in a 'controlled explosion.’

On the day of bombing, seven were killed, though by the weeks' end, another five were declared dead; two men belonging to Hamas while the other ten from Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli army announced they are holding the remains of five Islamic Jihad members, saying they found their bodies in the Israeli side of the tunnel.

The Israeli government is using those killed as bargaining chips, demanding the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 be returned.

Coordinator of [Israeli] Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav 'Poly’ Mordechai told the International Red Cross delegation in Gaza, search operations within the destroyed tunnel were not authorised until missing Israelis, allegedly held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad were accounted for.

According to France 24, Israel has also denied the Palestinian Civil Defence Authority access in order to search for survivors of the blast.

The Gaza Health Ministry said this blast marks the deadliest incident since the 2014 Gaza War, prompting Islamic Jihad members to threaten revenge.
 Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shehab took to Twitter, saying the group are considering all of their options in response to the explosion.

“The Zionist terror government must realise that we will not hesitate to protect our people and our land,” Shehab stated.

According to the Times of Israel, Hamas was cautious of an immediate military response as it may jeopardise the Palestinian reconciliation talks with Fatah, saying any advancements must be coordinated with Egypt.

Israel declared the area of the blast a closed military zone in order to manage any rocket fire launched in retaliation by Palestinians.

By the end of the 2014 Gaza war, the Israeli army claimed to have destroyed 32 tunnels crossing into Israel.

Since then, Israel has invested in using new technology and commenced building an underground barrier with sensors, as well as a six-metre fence above ground, according to Jerusalem Post, in order to halt further tunnels being built.

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