IDF aircraft bombed six smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon. The army said pilots confirmed hitting their targets.
At least a dozen Palestinians were reported trapped in the wreckage of the tunnels. Palestinian sources said that local emergency services have so far rescued nine people and efforts continue to extricate three others. It is unknown if any of the three are wounded or killed.
The explosion in Rafah today (Photo: AFP)
The IDF said secondary explosions were identified as the tunnels were attacked, adding that this proved explosives were being smuggled through them.
The attack comes as a response to the launching of Qassam rockets and mortar shells from Gaza into Israel over the past several days.
On Sunday seven Qassam rockets were fired into southern Israel. Another rocket was fired on Monday.
On Saturday an advanced Qassam lightly wounded three people in Ashkelon.
A senior military source said that Israel's lack of response to the incessant attacks would have a detrimental effect on its deterrence, and not only against Gaza's terror groups.
"This is the not the situation we would like to have seen a month and a half after the operation," he said.
The strike was carried out as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pays her first visit to Israel. Speaking at a conference on the rehabilitation of Gaza in Egypt on Monday, Clinton said: "There is no doubt that any nation including Israel cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks."