Israel warns Gaza militants against revenge attack
An Israeli general has warned Palestinian militants against carrying out attacks in revenge for the blowing up of a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state last month.
Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of a defence ministry unit responsible for activities in the Palestinian territories, made the comments in an Arabic-language video distributed late Saturday.
Referring to the Israeli operation on 30 October, he said that Israel "destroyed a terror tunnel in Israeli sovereign territory," which resulted in the death of 12 Palestinian militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group is planning against Israel," said Mordechai, whose defence ministry unit is known as COGAT.
"They are playing with fire at the expense of Gazan residents, the Palestinian reconciliation efforts and the stability of the entire region.
"Let it be clear: Any attack by Islamic Jihad will be met with a harsh and determined Israeli response.
"This will not only apply to Islamic Jihad but also to Hamas," the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.
Mordechai also addressed the Damascus-based Islamic Jihad leadership, mentioning Ramadan Shalah and Ziad Nakhaleh by name.
He called on them to "take control over the situation," as they are the ones "who will be held accountable" for any attack.
Israel has said it is holding the bodies of five militants retrieved from the tunnel and implied it would try to use them as bargaining chips to retrieve the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to be held by Hamas.
It did not state what conditions it would place for the return of the bodies but Israeli public radio said that information would be sought on Israelis missing in Gaza.
Israelis and Palestinians have a long history of exchanging the bodies of dead soldiers and militants.
Two Israeli civilians, said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas.
Indirect negotiations led to a 2011 deal which saw Israel release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held for five years.
Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation deal on 12 October aiming to end their decade-long split.
The deal is supposed to see the Palestinian Authority retake control of the Gaza Strip by 1 December.