The Israel soldiers foiled a serious attack by Hamas within the hours before the ceasefire went into effect, Channel 12 reported Friday, speculating that had the attack succeeded it could have derailed the truce.
According to the unsourced report, the IDF identified a Hamas cell because it made its way through an underground tunnel, apparently bent emerging on the brink of the Israeli border and attacking soldiers. The air force administered a precision strike on the tunnel, killing the gunmen, the report said.
The report noted that with Israel’s newly completed underground barrier, the cell wouldn’t are ready to get into Israel and attack civilians, but would rather have emerged on the brink of the border fence and fired on troops deployed at the border.
The IDF declined to discuss the report, but the channel noted that the knowledge had been approved for release by the IDF censor.
Heavy machinery works on a huge underground barrier on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza on September 8, 2016. (AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov)
The ceasefire went into effect at 2 a.m. Friday, hours after the cupboard approved the move.
Earlier, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the military had passed a message to Hamas that if it conducted an outsized attack within the hours before the truce, the IDF would retaliate with a huge airstrike on dozens of targets.
According to Zilberman, Israeli jets and other aircraft were kept within the air, hovering over Gaza, within the hours before the ceasefire to hold out this threat if necessary.
Also Friday, Channel 12 reported that the ceasefire had been delayed by up to 48 hours to permit the IDF to hold out a final mission.
The report said it had no details on what that mission may need been and noted that Hamas might not even remember it happened. If it was, it had been not acknowledging it.
The report said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the strike during a news conference earlier Friday.
Netanyahu said that not everything regarding the result and impact of the Israeli strikes is yet known to the general public , or maybe to Hamas: “We did daring and innovative things, without getting dragged into an unnecessary misadventure.”
Netanyahu also said that although the fear group wanted to hold out many cross-border attacks — including at the tail-end of the operation — it had been thwarted by Israel’s subterranean barrier, which has electronic sensors, which detected terrorists and enabled the IDF to “destroy” them.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press release at a news conference after the Gaza ceasefire, Tel Aviv, May 21, 2021. At his side may be a screen showing Gaza terror commanders killed operational Guardian of the Walls (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Aboveground, he said, Israel killed over 200 terrorists, including 25 senior officials.
“And those that didn’t die, know today that we will reach them everywhere – above or below ground,” the prime minister said, calling it “an achievement no military has ever achieved.”
Hamas could also be bragging as its leaders emerge from their tunnels hideouts, he said, “but they realize the destruction they brought upon themselves inside Gaza… they know we set them back years.”