Islamic Jihad still planning to avenge deaths of members killed in tunnel
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Islamic Jihad still planning to avenge deaths of members killed in tunnel

Source close to Gaza terror group says the mortar barrage fired at Israeli troops last week should not be seen as its response

Illustrative: Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group attend the funeral of fellow terrorists killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel in central Gaza, on October 31, 2017. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Illustrative: Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group attend the funeral of fellow terrorists killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel in central Gaza, on October 31, 2017. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group is still planning to respond to the killing of several of its members last month when the Israeli army bombed an attack tunnel it had dug that led from Gaza into Israel, sources close to the group said Sunday.

“The account for the Israeli crime is still open,”  the Palestine Today News Network quoted a source “close” to Islamic Jihad as saying, despite the group launching a barrage of mortar shells into Israel last week.

Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the “Al Quds Brigades, are practicing self-restraint and are waging, with great confidence, psychological warfare against the Israeli occupation,” the source said.

The statement came hours after the army declared the area surrounding the Gaza Strip a “closed military zone” in light of unspecified activities in the area, the military censor cleared for publication on Sunday.

The nature of the military activity in the area and the exact location of the closures were not allowed to be published.

The army said there were no new special instructions for Israeli residents of the Gaza border region, though existing orders keeping farmers away from certain areas along the border remain in place.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad launched a dozen mortar shells at an army post northeast of the Strip, causing no injuries but damaging army equipment.

The army said the Islamic Jihad attack appeared to be the retaliation for the army demolishing the group’s attack tunnel exactly a month earlier.

Mourners carry the coffin of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement terrorist Arafat Abu Morshed during the funeral at the Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza of Palestinians killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, on October 31, 2017. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

After the tunnel demolition on October 30, in which at least 14 terrorists were killed, including two of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s top commanders, the group vowed revenge.

Islamic Jihad said the tunnel was supposed to be used for “kidnapping soldiers in order to free prisoners [from Israeli prisons].”

According to the army, the tunnel had been under surveillance the entire time that it was inside Israeli territory and did not pose a threat to civilians.

Israeli officials told the terror group not to go through with its plans to retaliate. In the weeks following, the army also kept farmers away from the fence and, in a dramatic move, deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in central Israel, including in the greater Tel Aviv area.

The army said later that killing the terrorists was not the primary objective of the tunnel demolition.

The bodies of five of the terrorists who were working on the tunnel inside Israeli territory were recovered by the IDF and are being held by Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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