Israel warns jihadists that they are 'playing with fire' if they retaliate for tunnel destruction

Israel warns jihadists that they are 'playing with fire' if they retaliate for tunnel destruction
Members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stand while searching for missing or dead militants after Israel blew up a cross-border tunnel, - REUTERS

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Israel has issued a rare public warning to Islamic Jihad that it will be "playing with fire" if it retaliates for the destruction of a tunnel which killed 14 of its members two weeks ago.

An Arabic video was posted by the army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, containing a direct and blunt warning to the jihadists, the Israeli paper Haaretz reported.

“We’re aware of the plot that Palestinian Islamic Jihad is concocting against Israel," the video said.

“It is playing with fire on the backs of residents of the Gaza Strip, and at the expense of the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the entire region."

“Just to be clear, Israel will respond forcefully and resolutely to any Islamic Jihad reaction whatsoever — not just against Jihad, but also against Hamas,” the video added.

“We advise Islamic Jihad’s leadership in Damascus to exercise caution and keep things under control. Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s headquarters in Damascus and the organization’s leaders, Ramadan Shalah and Ziad Nakhala, you had better take things into your own hands quickly, because you’re the ones who will bear the responsibility.”

Israel has long been concerned about the use of tunnels built by Hamas to both store weapons and infiltrate fighters into the country.

In February last year Israel's chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot said the tunnels were “a central threat at the top of the Israel Defence Force's priority list.”

Egypt has also worked to hamper the tunnels which have not only been used to smuggle weapons but also cocaine.