Israel Bombs Gaza Tunnels

Escalating violence threatens ceasefire as US envoy heads to region
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2009 3:49 AM CST
Palestinians stand over a hole of a collapsed tunnel while others (not pictured) work on constructing new tunnels under the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Israel bombed smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border today in response to yesterday's killing of an Israeli soldier, CNN reports. The escalating violence is threatening the fragile ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. The strikes occurred just as George Mitchell, President Obama's envoy to the Middle East, was scheduled to arrive for meetings in the region in hopes of shoring up peace. No one was apparently hurt in today's attacks, but panicked residents fled their homes.

Israel made closing the tunnels, used for smuggling weapons and other goods into Gaza, a priority in its 22-day offensive but the smuggling resumed soon after the ceasefire was declared 10 days ago. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has warned more missile strikes are likely. "Israel wants the quiet  to continue, but Israel will act to defend herself," said a government spokesman. "If Hamas continues with its violent provocations, the ceasefire will simply not exist."