- Foiled Hamas tunnel plot would have had hundreds of fighters infiltrate Israel, attack thousands of Israelis
Israeli Hebrew - and English - language media outlets reported early Friday that Hamas's offensive tunnel network - which is now known to have been composed of over two dozen attack tunnels dug underneath Israel's border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip - was set to be activated during the Jewish High Holidays in the form of a mass terror attack. Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of captured Hamas fighters, described a scenario under which hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters would have spilled out into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes have been in a position to infiltrate several sparsely populated and lightly guarded Israeli communities. Palestinian terrorists would then - per an assessment conveyed by i24news - have sought to "kill and kidnap as many Israelis as they could." Details of plot, which were first published by the Hebrew-language Ma'ariv, described it as set to take place when Israelis would have been celebrating the Jewish New Year, on or around September 24. Observers noted that attack scenarios lined up with recently revealed data about the scope and nature of the offensive tunnel network. The IDF recently published a map showing that the tunnels were created to empty out on both sides of nearby communities. Israeli military officials had already reported that the tunnel entrances are stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, ropes, and other materials useful for subduing abducted civilians and soldiers. And the known cost of the infrastructure - with each tunnel costing roughly $1 million - implies that Hamas leaders were planning a coordinated mega-attack, since use of even one of the tunnels was likely to trigger an Israeli retaliation against the entire network. Revelations regarding the magnitude of the planned tunnel attack are thought to have played a critical role in the Israeli government's rejection of a ceasefire proposed late Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry, which would have prohibited the Israelis from degrading remaining attack tunnels.
It was a modest swearing in ceremony for the 10th president of Israel, as the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict rages. Reuven Rivlin officially took the ceremonial role from his predecessor Shimon Peres, who had summed up a seven-year term. Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced earlier in the week that the affair would be toned down in light of Operation Protective Edge. “When our IDF soldiers are in battle and Israeli citizens are under rocket fire, we decided to make the swearing-in ceremony a more modest affair,” they said in a statement. Rivlin’s initiation speech referred to the IDF operation in Gaza. “We are gathered here today with a very clear message to our enemies: You have not overcome us and you will not do so,” he said. “We are not fighting against the Palestinian people, and we are not at war with Islam; we are fighting against terrorism.” Rivlin spoke about his hope for peace for Israel and its neighbors. “The day will come when we will dwell here in peace and harmony with each other; the day will come when there will be peace between Israel and all its neighbors,” he said. (via Israel21c)
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