Eight Palestinian members of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements were killed on Monday when Israel blew up a tunnel being dug underneath the Gaza Strip border.
The Islamic Jihad’s "Quds Brigade" said the head of the movement’s armed wing in central Gaza, Arafat Abou Morshid, was killed along with his deputy, Hassan Abou Hassanein, and other members.
It vowed revenge against the sudden Israeli airstrike, saying “all options are open for response” and that it had put its fighters on “full alert.”
Hamas’ Qassam Brigades also mourned two of its members, who were killed while trying to rescue Quds Brigades men working in the tunnel.
Islamic Jihad's media bureau official Dawood Shehab stated that the Israeli attack on the tunnel is a blatant violation and another Israeli attempt to "shuffle the cards". He vowed retaliation and stated that the movement reserves its right to respond at the right time.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Islamic Jihad fighters were still under the rubble, but it was not clear if they were alive or not.
The tunnel was being dug from the Gaza town of Khan Younes across the border, where it was blown up. The tunnel was detected less than two miles from the Israeli village of Kissufim, using new advanced detection technologies and was subsequently "neutralized."
Israeli military spokesman said the tunnel, which he suggested was recently built, was an “active” construction that Israeli forces had been been monitoring for some time.
The spokesperson called the tunnel a “grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty” for which he held Hamas responsible.
Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported that Israeli forces deployed the Iron Dome batteries near Gaza border for any possible retaliatory attacks.
Channel 10 reporter, David bin Alon said that the tunnel was discovered days ago. He pointed out that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Southern command were aware of the tunnel since it was first found.
He explained that airstrike targeted the area near the tunnel and it may have been prompted by the detection of individuals inside of it.
Commenting on the discovery, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Those who try to harm us, we harm them … Today we detected a tunnel and destroyed it and we will continue to do so.”
In remarks to legislators of his Likud party, he explained that “groundbreaking technology” aided the tunnel’s discovery, but he gave no further details.
Defense Minister stated that the army does not intend to escalate the situation, but is prepared to thwart any attempt to harm Israelis.
Lieberman warned that Israel would not tolerate incursions on its territory.
“I think the message is clear to all: We will not tolerate a breach of our sovereignty," he said, adding that Gaza is still open for terrorism despite the recent Palestinian reconciliation.
On Saturday, UNRWA said it had discovered “what appeared to be a tunnel” underneath one of its schools in Gaza and had sealed it. This is the second incident of this kind in the past few months.