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Israeli defence minister vows to destroy all tunnels in Gaza Strip in 2018

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Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed to destroy all tunnels in the Gaza Strip within a year and proposed to the Palestinians a deal envisaging assistance in reconstruction in exchange for disarmament.

The Israeli military has claimed it developed a breakthrough technology that has already allowed it to detect and destroy three underground border crossings within the last two months.

“The defence minister said that all such [diversionary] tunnels would be destroyed by the end of 2018,” press service of Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party said.

The destruction of tunnels and construction of an underground belt around the Gaza Strip are two key points of Liberman’s programme on settling the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The politician also proposed that strikes be carried out in response to any rocket launch from the Gaza Strip, which would thereby undermine Hamas’ capabilities and boost Israeli settlement near the Palestinian enclave.

“And the last important initiative … is in fact a formula, under which Israel is ready to co-exist with the [Gaza] Strip – reconstruction in exchange for disarmament,” the party said.

Liberman noted that in 2017, Hamas invested 260 million dollars in the production of rockets and tunnel construction.

“If they had invested these funds in the water system or health care system, they would have been in a totally different situation,” the minister added.

For decades, Israel has been in conflict with the Palestinians, who have been seeking diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which are partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government refuses to recognise Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in the occupied areas, in spite of objections from the UN.

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