Israeli warplanes hit Gaza tunnels | world | Hindustan Times
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Israeli warplanes hit Gaza tunnels

US Prez Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy called in Egypt for a Gaza ceasefire to be consolidated and pledged the new administration would vigorously pursue peace and stability in the region.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 13:17 IST

US President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy called in Egypt on Wednesday for a Gaza ceasefire to be consolidated and pledged the new administration would vigorously pursue peace and stability in the region.

A surge of violence has threatened the fragile separate truces that Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers put into effect on January 18 after a 22-day Israeli offensive.

Israeli aircraft bombed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border in a response to the killing on Tuesday of an Israeli soldier on patrol along Israel’s frontier with the coastal enclave.

While Israeli leaders weighed more military action, Palestinian work crews used giant yellow bulldozers and backhoes to repair tunnels damaged by bombing during the Gaza war and in the latest attack.

Israel fears Hamas could rebuild the underground network to replenish an arsenal of rockets used in cross-border attacks on its southern communities before and during the Gaza campaign.

Former US Senator George Mitchell, Obama’s envoy, said it was “of critical importance that the ceasefire be extended and consolidated, and we support Egypt’s continuing efforts in that regard.”

He was speaking at a Cairo news conference after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose country is trying to mediate a long-term truce. Mitchell later held talks in Israel with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and planned to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.