Israel warns Gaza militants against revenge attack


world
 Israel warns Gaza militants against revenge attack

An Israeli general has warned fighters from the Islamic Jihad movement, shown here at a funeral for comrades killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, against any revenge attack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Palestinian militants against carrying out attacks in revenge for the blowing up of a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state last month.

The Islamic Jihad militant group meanwhile threatened to hit back at Israel over the destruction of the tunnel it says it dug.

Israel's operation on October 30 resulted in the deaths of 12 Palestinian militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"There are still those who toy with trying new attacks on Israel," Netanyahu said at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting.

"We will react forcefully to whoever tries to attack us or attacks us from any arena. I mean anyone -- rebel factions, organisations, anyone," he said in an apparent reference to Islamic Jihad.

"In any case, we hold Hamas responsible for any attack against us originating from Gaza or organised there," he said of the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu's remarks came on the heels of a Saturday night Arabic-language video issued by Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of a defence ministry unit responsible for activities in the Palestinian territories.

Referring to the Israeli operation on October 30, he said that Israel "destroyed a terror tunnel in Israeli sovereign territory".

"We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group is planning against Israel," said Mordechai, whose defence ministry unit is known as COGAT.

"They are playing with fire at the expense of Gazan residents, the Palestinian reconciliation efforts and the stability of the entire region.

"Let it be clear: Any attack by Islamic Jihad will be met with a harsh and determined Israeli response.

"This will not only apply to Islamic Jihad but also to Hamas."

Mordechai also addressed the Damascus-based Islamic Jihad leadership, mentioning Ramadan Shalah and Ziad Nakhaleh by name.

He called on them to "take control over the situation," as they are the ones "who will be held accountable" for any attack.

Islamic Jihad rejected Mordechai's message, saying "the enemy's threat to target the leaders of the movement" was "a declaration of war".

"We will respond to it," the militant movement said in a Sunday statement, stressing it had "the right to respond" to the blowing up of the tunnel.

Israel has said it is holding the bodies of five militants retrieved from the tunnel and implied it would try to use them as bargaining chips to retrieve the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to be held by Hamas.

Two Israeli civilians, said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas.

Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation deal on October 12 aiming to end their decade-long split.

The deal is supposed to see the Palestinian Authority retake control of the Gaza Strip by December 1.

By: AFP

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