Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza tunnels

Israeli warplanes fire missiles at targets across Gaza, damaging a series of tunnels along the territory's border with Egypt.

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Israeli warplanes fired missiles at targets across Gaza today, damaging a series of tunnels along the territory's border with Egypt, sources on both sides said. Palestinian security officials said Israel had carried out four raids overnight, two of them along the frontier, one in central Gaza and one in the north. Three cross-border tunnels sustained heavy damage in the raids, although no one was hurt in the attack, officials from the Hamas-run security forces said.

Warplanes also targeted an empty house in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza, causing serious damage, as well as an open area in Nusseirat, south of Gaza City, they said. The Israeli military confirmed the attacks along the border and in the north but made no mention of Nusseirat. "The Israel air force struck a weapons manufacturing site in the northern Gaza Strip and two weapons-smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip overnight," a statement said.

The attacks came after Gaza-based militants fired four missiles into southern Israel over the weekend. Figures cited by the military indicate that more than 100 rockets or mortar rounds have been fired into Israel since the beginning of the year. Israel has repeatedly targeted the tunnels on the Egyptian border in retaliation for rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled enclave. Most of the tunnels are used to smuggle in basic goods but Hamas and other militant groups reportedly use their own tunnels to bring in arms and money.

In December 2008, Israel launched a devastating 22-day war on Gaza in a bid to halt near-daily rocket fire from the besieged Palestinian territory. The war claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Since the end of the operation, militants have fired more than 350 rockets or mortar rounds into Israel, the military says. * AFP