Friday, 25 July 2014

ABC 21/7 Israel attempting to destroy tunnels in Gaza

Israel attempting to destroy tunnels in Gaza

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 21/07/2014
Reporter: Emma Alberici
Middle East correspondent, Hayden Cooper, reports on the latest developments in Gaza.


EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Middle East correspondent Hayden Cooper is in southern Israel on the Gaza border and he joins us now. 

As we've just seen, Hayden, Hamas militants have been using a system of tunnels to attempt to launch attacks in Israel. What can you tell us about that tunnel system?

HAYDEN COOPER, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was another attempted attack today, as you mentioned, and it was actually not far behind me in the hills. The Palestinian militants emerged out of a tunnel and attempted to launch some sort of attack, but they were pretty quickly met by the Israeli military and the Israeli Defence Force says 10 of them were killed. It's very significant because this is the whole purpose of the ground invasion: to destroy some of these tunnels, and it's obvious that after four or five days of this ground invasion, the Israelis are still finding tunnels that they didn't even know were there. That is also the reason they give for shelling very heavily the neighbourhood of Shujayea in eastern Gaza. That also is behind me in the distance, and even this afternoon, it's copping another shelling from Israeli tanks, and all up and down this border here, every 30 seconds or so, you can hear the cannon fire going off as it's sent into Gaza. So, no let-up here at all in the way that eastern Gaza is being shelled. And as you said, the death toll continues to rise. Palestinian officials say it's now 528. And there are reports emerging just in the past few minutes, Emma, of a hospital being hit by Israeli tanks. This is according to Palestinian sources again, but the Gaza Health Ministry says that four or five people have been killed and maybe 15 or so wounded in that attack.

EMMA ALBERICI: So while the international community and world leaders are asking for a truce, what you're telling us is there's actually been an escalation in the fighting?

HAYDEN COOPER: Yeah, definitely yesterday, there was an escalation. The Palestinians called that a massacre in Shujayea. Today, it's not so heavy, but there have still been a number of deaths. This was one report this morning of an air strike on a home in Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip which killed about 20 members of the same family. Again, that came from Palestinian sources. So, the intense bombardment continues of Gaza. It doesn't seem to be slowing up. And when incidents happen like this morning with the militants trying to get through in a tunnel, you can only imagine that that will ensure that this invasion by Israel goes on, because that, as I said, has been listed as the main reason for the whole operation.

EMMA ALBERICI: Has there been any indication at all that either side of this conflict is heeding calls from the international community for a truce?

HAYDEN COOPER: Look, not really. I mean, as I said, we can still hear those cannons going off right now going into Gaza. The diplomatic efforts are happening in Cairo. The US Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently on his way. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been in Qatar meeting with various officials there, and remember, that's where the political leadership of Hamas is based. Now he is due to go to Cairo as well. But all of these talks haven't led anywhere significant yet. I guess we can only hope that behind the scenes, there is some movement, but certainly publicly, there's no sign of it at all.

EMMA ALBERICI: Hayden Cooper, thanks so much.

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