The IDF announced on April 18th that it had discovered a tunnel leading from Gaza into southern Israel, the first uncovered since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Israeli authorities are concerned that the underground passage could be used to attack civilians in border communities. Meanwhile, media reports indicate a contractor carrying out tunnel detection work may have found another hollow underground shaft nearby.
During a speech on April 15th in celebration of Prisoner’s Day, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, recommitted his terrorist organization tothe struggle against Israel with “the rifle and the tunnel.” Later that day, rioters gathered near the border fence with Israel hurling rocks at IDF soldiers who dispersed the crowd using non-lethal means.
In a move to allay Egyptian security concerns, Hamas announced it had deployed additional forces to Gaza’s border with Sinai. According to Palestinian sources, three new outposts were constructed and bulldozers flattened land for additional temporary structures.
A bus bombing injured 21 people, some of whom critically, in Jerusalem on April 18th. Video of the incident shows the vehicle in flames with rescue personnel at the scene. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the incident as a terrorist attack.
Jordan cancelled plans to install security cameras at the Temple Mount at the request of Palestinian representatives. The additional security measures were meant to calm violent clashes between Israeli police and rioters that broke out at the holy site last year. Palestinians believed that Israelis would use the camera to spy on Muslims visiting the site, while Israeli authorities had hoped to expose Palestinian agitators and the hoarding of weapons.
On April 16th, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organized a rally in support of Hezbollah in the West Bank town of Kafr Ni’me. Ynet reported that dozens of Palestinians and Druze, some coming from the Golan Heights, took part in the demonstration supporting the “resistance” and Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.
On April 14th, the IDF accidently returned the body of a terrorist to the Palestinian Authority, after he was shot and killed near Al-Arroub. The man had attempted to attack two IDF soldiers with an ax. Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry to stop returning the corpses of Palestinian terrorists to avoid having funerals on the West Bank become political demonstrations.
An Israeli military prosecutor charged an unnamed IDF soldier with manslaughter for shooting and killing an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. A lawyer for Sgt. Elor Azaria, the medic accused in the killing, said that he was planning on a full acquittal.
The IDF launched a week-long, unannounced drill in northern Israel to test the readiness of troops in Northern Command. The exercise includes air and ground forces and is designed to maintain the “competency and vigilance of the troops,” according to a government statement.
The Obama administration may relocate some of the 700 U.S. troops based with the Multinational Force and Observer (MFO) mission in Sinai due to security concerns. Military planners are reportedly worried that the local Islamic State affiliate in Sinai may launch a surprise attack on Camp el-Gorah. Troops will be redeployed to southern Sinai and will rely on more on automated systems, such as drones, to fulfill monitor the area.
On April 7th, a roadside bomb in Sinai killed seven people, including five Egyptian soldiers and one military officer. Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack.
Three Palestinians were killed after the tunnel they were working in collapsed on April 10th. Israeli media reported the tunnel was connecting Gaza to Rafah in Egypt.