Hamas teams pull dead from terror tunnels

Images support Israel's claim to have targeted Hamas infrastructure


Hamas search teams are pulling dozens of bodies from tunnels that collapsed when they were targeted by Israeli air strikes. 

Images from the Gaza Strip, near the border fence with Israel, show people digging and pulling out the dead. The images are viewed as important by Israel, as they are said to support the claim that strikes were pinpointed on terrorist and terror infrastructure, and that while civilians lost lives many of those killed were militants. 

One of the collapsed tunnels photographed reportedly ran through the Khan Yunis area close to Israel and it was intended for terrorists to use for a raid on military outposts. 

On the Israeli side there was a marked change in tone today in remarks by IDF Chief of Staff Avi Kochavi. In a departure from the unquestioning praise of Israel’s achievements, he said that the military needs to learn lessons from the campaign. This comes amid a growing number of reports suggesting that Israel’s gains against Hamas were smaller than initially assumed. 

"We must remain critical of ourselves,” Lieutenant Colonel Kochavi said. “We must remain humble and conduct a learning process of all that needs improvement, change and adjustment. Where we were good we want to be very good, where we were very good we want to be excellent.” 

As Hamas and Israel count the cost of the conflict, there are growing suggestions that some officials in the IDF have come to regret the strike on a Gaza high-rise that housed, among other offices, those of media organisations including Associated Press. 

Israel stands by its claim that the building was used by Hamas intelligence facilities but there are believed to be prominent voices in the IDF who say that, given the international criticism, the strike was a mistake. Rumours to this effect have been circulating in Israel and the New York Times became the first media outlet to publish the suggestion today. 

There was an emotional condolence call today at the home of Yigal Yehoshua, who died last week after being lynched by an Arab mob in Lod at the height of the recent Arab-Jewish violence. President Reuven Rivlin visited the family, and heard that Mr Yehoshua would have wanted his legacy to be a boost to coexistence. 

Mr Rivlin noted that he donated his organs, including a kidney that went to an Arab woman. “There is nothing more tragic than a loss like this, and it was so important for me to be here and tell you how deeply we respect you," said Mr Rivlin, discussing the organ donation. 

“I pray that you will find consolation and that from now onwards you will know only joyous occasions.”

Mr Rivlin asked the brothers of the deceased: “I think about what to say, how to offer my support and say to myself – what would your brother have told you today? How would he give you all strength?”

His brothers said that he would have told them to stay positive, and continue on the basis of his profound belief in coexistence. 

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