From Mako - Israel's Channel 12 (Hebrew):
In Israel, last night (Thursday-Friday), an IDF air and ground operation was reported in the foreign media, things looked different . This created a great deal of ambiguity, and major media outlets reported the launch of a ground operation. Now it turns out that this was not a mistake, but a planned ploy whose role is to help eliminate Hamas' forces.It is not for nothing that security officials have said in the past that Hamas does not understand this, but its tunnels will become mass cemeteries. The IDF has already planned how to turn the threat of the tunnels into an opportunity, and that is exactly what happened last night.Gaza City is surrounded by a network of defensive tunnels: miles upon miles of tunnels used by Hamas to fight underground, to kidnap soldiers, to move from place to place, to launch rockets, and even as meeting spaces. During fighting, Hamas fighters stay underground and work from there.Yesterday, the IDF managed to produce a vague picture of a ground operation. Infantry, artillery and tanks were moved towards the fence and at the same time the IDF spokesman in English released the ambiguous announcement. Thus, the IDF made Hamas think that a ground operation is beginning, which caused the organization to bring in all its fighters, including the Nahba, the special force of Hamas, to go down into the tunnels and prepare for combat.Then for 35 minutes 160 planes hover over Gaza and drop 450 bombs, which are over 80 tons of explosives, on the entire Gaza "metro" tunnel system. IDF forces are collapsing the array of tunnels on their occupants. At this time it is still unclear - both to us and to Hamas - the extent of the damage and the number of terrorist operatives buried there, but it is likely that it is in the hundreds.After the night operation, a security source who spoke with N12 says: "Yesterday we carried out at least 20 targeted assassinations of senior figures, and killed hundreds in Hamas. We destroyed most of Hamas' rocket production system, took care of the tunnel system, which was their strategic tool, and many other achievements."
These tunnels and bunkers are absolutely a valid military target, even though the damage to stores and houses above are inevitable and extensive. Under international law, a military cannot be hamstrung by the existence of civilian structures that are protecting critical military infrastructure as long as a reasonable military commander would believe that the target is important enough. In this case there is no doubt about it - this was an opportunity to inflict a huge amount of damage on Hamas, and it appears successful.
There is no doubt that a lot of innocent Palestinians were killed and injured last night. This is entirely Hamas' fault for using them as human shields.
Notably, neither Hamas' Al Qassam website nor the Islamic Jihad Saraya website have updated since the attack. (UPDATE: Hamas just did at 1 PM local time.)
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post describes the scheme differently:
According to reports, due to the deployment along the border and the news coming out in the foreign media of a ground incursion, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sent their first-line of defense out of the tunnels and into their above-ground positions. These were the anti-tank missile teams and mortar squads meant to strike at incoming Israeli ground forces.What they did not know was that there was no ground offensive. Instead, once they were out of the tunnels, they were exposed to Israeli aircraft. Within minutes, the “Metro” attack went ahead.