Massive IDF Aerial Assault on Hamas Terror Tunnels in Gaza Could Open Door for Ceasefire Talks in Coming Days

Israeli soldiers walk around tanks in a field near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on its Israeli side May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel’s massive air raid beginning late Thursday — which saw some 160 fighter aircraft pound Hamas’ terror tunnels in the Gaza Strip, and neutralize a large number of the militant group’s members — may bring the Jewish state closer to ceasefire talks to end the confrontation.

“In the last 24 hours, we have attacked underground targets. Hamas thought that it could hide there but it cannot hide there,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday. “Hamas senior officials think that they can flee from our strikes — they cannot flee. They are paying, and will pay, a very heavy price for this. This is not yet over. We will do everything to restore security to our cities and our people.”

Meanwhile, Israeli security officials told Israeli broadcaster Kan that following the successes of last night’s tunnel operation a ceasefire could be in reach, after a few more days of airstrikes and rocket fire on both sides.

“We believe there’ll be still a few more days of fighting, but Hamas is paying right now a price, and that will result in negotiations. Right now Israel is refusing to negotiate a ceasefire, rejecting efforts of the UN, US and the Egyptians,” according to the security official.

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May 14, 2021 2:58 pm

The Hamas tunnel operation started with the deployment of Israeli ground forces that were prepared and staged on the Gaza fence border on Thursday for a potential ground offensive. The preparation efforts by the Israeli army reportedly prompted Hamas commanders to instruct masses of the terrorist group’s members to enter the tunnels to get ready for the ground attack. This was exacerbated by confusing statements from the IDF spokesperson unit that “air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”

Then, throughout Thursday night, about 160 IDF aircraft from 12 squadrons struck over 150 underground operations in the northern Gaza Strip. During the same operation, ground forces, artillery and armored troops of the Israeli army, which were deployed along the Gaza fence, fired hundreds of artillery shells and dozens of tank shells against targets in the Gaza Strip. As a result, many miles of the strategically important Hamas underground tunnels were severely damaged and partly destroyed.

“Such significant damage to places that the enemy is surprised by may lead to the enemy’s desire to stop,” IDF Brigadier General Omer Tischler, who commands the base from which the air force attacked, told Israeli outlet N12 Friday.

“How does such an attack take place? It starts with very accurate intelligence, very clear planning of where we want the armaments to be, from an operational understanding that brings about 150 fighters to attack, a lot of skilled technical staff to make sure every bomb gets in place,” he said.

IDF fighter jets on Friday also struck a tunnel shaft in the southern Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas terror organization, which contained servers and military equipment.

“The tunnel shaft was located adjacent to a kindergarten and a mosque, proving once again how the Hamas terror organization deliberately places its military assets in the heart of densely populated civilian areas. The IDF takes all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians during its operational activities,” the IDF said in a statement.

Since the beginning of operation “Guardians of the Walls” began on Monday evening, Hamas fired 2,000 rockets from Gaza at Israel, with close to 1,000 being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

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