The tension on the Gaza border, which saw Israeli troops firing at Palestinian protesters, came exactly three months after Israel and Hamas reached a truce following their deadliest standoff in years.
Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes against Hamas positions in Gaza, Israeli forces said, after Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s threat to avenge an injured soldier in the border during anti-occupation protests.
Saturday’s air strikes came after cross-border gunfire seriously injured an Israeli soldier in Gaza border where indiscriminate Israeli fire wounded 41 Palestinians, including two critically.
Among the two Palestinians critically injured was a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, Gaza’s Health Ministry said. It described most of the other injuries as moderate, including gunshots to limbs, backs, and abdomens.
‘Retaliatory’ air strikes
Cross-border fire from Gaza seriously wounded an Israeli border police soldier, who is in hospital receiving medical treatment, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility for the Gaza gunfire.
In response to the soldier’s shooting, Israeli “fighter jets have struck four weapons storage and manufacturing sites belonging to” Hamas, the military said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Israeli forces said it had sent additional forces to the Gaza border area. Israeli media reported the military had increased deployment of its Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Several Gaza locations targeted
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent, explosions occurred at several points in Gaza after the attack.
Palestinian media said the Nuseirat region in the central regions of Gaza and the Al-Shati Camp in the coastal region were among locations that were hit.
Israel said four targets belonging to the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, were hit by warplanes.
Source of violence
The violence follows an Israeli announcement of a resumption of Qatari aid to Gaza, a move seen as bolstering a fragile Egyptian-mediated truce to the May fighting.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Saturday’s air strikes showed Israel was “trying to cover up its failure and disappointment in front of the steadfastness of our people and their valiant resistance.”
At least 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel were killed in the May conflict, in which Israel carried out air strikes across the coastal enclave and Hamas fired retaliatory rockets towards Israeli targets.
Israel keeps Gaza under a blockade, tightly restricting movement out of the territory that is home to two million Palestinians. Egypt also maintains restrictions on the enclave. Both cite threats from Hamas for the restrictions.