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Israel arrests senior Islamic Jihad leader

Tareq Qadaan, one of the leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement

Israel's army has arrested a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad resistance movement after its demolition of a tunnel in the besieged Gaza Strip last month.

The Israeli army said on Monday that it arrested overnight what it called the "senior operative" in Arraba near the city of Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

A source with Islamic Jihad confirmed that one of its leaders, Tareq Qadaan, was detained during an "arrest campaign" launched by scores of Israeli soldiers.

Tensions have risen between Israel and Islamic Jihad after Israel destroyed a tunnel stretching from the besieged Gaza Strip into the heart of the occupied territories on October 30.

The demolition killed 14 fighters from al-Quds Brigades, which is the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, and the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas resistance movement.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza against conducting retaliatory attacks in response to the tunnel’s demolition.

The remarks echoed an earlier warning issued by a high-ranking Israeli military commander.

In an Arabic-language video published on late Saturday, Major General Yoav Mordechai, the head of an Israeli ministry unit responsible for activities in the Palestinian lands, warned Palestinian resistance fighters against carrying out an attack in revenge.

Mourners at the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza carry the coffin of Islamic Jihad fighter Arafat Abu Morshed killed in an Israeli operation to destroy a tunnel on October 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In reaction to the Israeli army’s threats, the resistance movement on Sunday said the remarks amounted to a declaration of war, threatening to hit back at Israel over the tunnel’s destruction. Islamic Jihad also stressed that “Israel's threats don't scare us.”

Tunnels are the only lifeline for the Palestinians living under the Israeli siege and Egypt has so far destroyed hundreds of them.

Israel and the Egyptian military have launched a campaign to destroy the tunnels, preventing the people in Gaza from bringing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel into the coastal enclave.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

The Israeli regime denies about 1.8 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education.

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