The bodies of five terrorists from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) who were killed when Israel demolished a tunnel that extended into its territory from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are being held by Israel.
The five terrorists whose bodies were recovered by Israel were found on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, when the tunnel was detected and destroyed last week. However, the army said that the tunnel had been monitored to ensure it did not present a threat and that the terrorists had not yet dug an opening inside of Israel, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.
“During the past few days, the Southern Command and Gaza Division have been operating to finalize the uncovering and destruction of the terror tunnel that was targeted on October 30, 2017, in Israeli territory,” the IDF said in a statement Sunday.
“During the ongoing work in the area the bodies of five terrorists were uncovered.”
PIJ said that Israel would not be able to “bargain” over its “fighters,” and a senior member of the group, Ahmad al-Mudalal, threatened, “Our battle is open and shall not end. The freedom tunnel is not the only tunnel owned by the Islamic Jihad. It has many tunnels and many options.”
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, said Israel would be able to stop “the resistance from developing its capabilities.”
Israel’s public security minister said that Israel would not return the bodies of the dead terrorists until Hamas returns the bodies of two soldiers who were killed in 2014, and four live Israelis who have crossed the border fence into Israel. “Until we get back our dear ones, they won’t get the body of even one terrorist,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement.
Israel assessed that, overall, fourteen terrorists, mostly from PIJ, but including a few from Hamas, were killed when Israel destroyed the tunnel.
Israeli officials have frequently said that because it rules Gaza with an iron fist, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all terror threats originating in Gaza.
[Photo: TV7 Israel News / YouTube]