Netanyahu vows to press hunt for Gaza tunnels

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JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel will not be deterred in its bid to destroy Hamas’ tunnels after the worst flare-up of violence with Gaza’s Islamist rulers in two years.

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“Israel will continue to act as necessary to detect and prevent the threat of tunnels in the south,” he told reporters at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We are not seeking escalation, but will not be deterred from doing what it required to maintain security,” he said.

The frontier was reported to be quiet on Sunday morning after four days of border duels — the heaviest exchanges of fire between the two sides since the 2014 Gaza war that killed 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.

Israeli warplanes hit two Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday in response to Palestinian rocket fire, but neither the strikes nor the rockets caused casualties.

Since Wednesday, Hamas and other militant groups have fired at least 12 mortar rounds at Israeli forces searching along the border, and short distances inside Gaza, for attack tunnels leading into Israel.

Israeli tank fire killed a Palestinian woman when it hit her home east of Khan Yunis on Thursday.

Hamas’s Gaza leader, Ismail Haniya, said on Friday that the group was “not calling for a new war”, but would not accept Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory.

The exchanges have raised concerns for the future of an informal truce that has held since the 2014 conflict ended. AFP

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