Israeli air raids hit Gaza tunnels

February 18th, 2009 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Feb 18 (DPA) Israeli fighter jets bombed tunnels running to Egypt and a Hamas post early Wednesday in the southern Gaza Strip, apparently in retaliation for a mortar fired overnight by Palestinian militants into Israel, Israeli media reports said.
Seven tunnels were hit near Rafah and one other target was hit in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military spokesman told the Haaretz newspaper, which identified the second strike as hitting a Hamas post in Khan Younis.

The report did not mention any casualties.

A mortar shell fired into Israel early Wednesday hit an open area in the western Negev Desert and caused no casualties or damage, the Jerusalem Post said.

The military spokesman told Haaretz that two other Israeli air raids were carried out Monday on the same tunnels, which he said were used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza. He said those strikes were carried out in retaliation for rocket attacks on Israel on the same day.

The airstrikes occurred as Israel and Hamas were discussing a ceasefire, a prisoner swap and the removal of Israeli controls on border crossings into the Gaza Strip.

Both sides have been seeking a truce since reaching separate ceasefires last month after a bruising 22-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead. That assault was prompted by rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Thirteen Israelis died during the offensive.

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