Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel is determined to destroy the tunnels that Palestinian militants have built under the Gaza-Israel border. The Prime Minster said that he would not agree to a cease-fire proposal of any kind that does not allow the Israeli military to remove the tunnels, which have been used to infiltrate Israel and have already killed many soldiers during attacks.
“So far we have neutralized tens of terror tunnels,” Mr. Netanyahu said in televised remarks at the start of a government meeting at military headquarters in Tel Aviv. “We are determined to continue to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire,” he added.
The Israeli operation is now in its 24th day and has had to call upon 16,000 additional reserve soldiers. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said: “Netanyahu is gambling with his people and pushing his army to the unknown to maintain his stature, position and allies regionally and internationally. They fooled him and pushed him to a loser’s war with uncalculated consequences.”
Israel has demolished over 32 discovered tunnels and vows that it will take no more than a few days to rid of the remainder. The problem is, “demolishing” comes at a price. At least 116 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were killed on Wednesday alone. Shrapnel from efforts to destroy the tunnels has hit many buildings, including a U.N. school and the Omar Ibn al-Khatab mosque. “The shrapnel from the strike on the mosque hit people who were in the street and at the entrance of the school,” said Sami Salebi, an area resident.
Some state that Israel and the Hamas militants are committing war crimes in the latest Gaza conflict because of the terror tunnels and subsequent efforts to destroy them. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says that by launching rockets within these very heavily populated areas both sides are committing “a violation of international humanitarian law, therefore a war crime.” This is just one more horrific detail in an already tragic international situation.