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Israel, Hamas Exchange Threats With No Intentions for Escalation

Israel, Hamas Exchange Threats With No Intentions for Escalation

Sunday, 18 August, 2019 - 08:00
Relatives of Palestinian gunmen who were killed by Israeli forces as they tried to cross the Gaza border, react at a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat
Tensions rose to new heights at the Gaza Strip borders after Israel launched a series of counterattacks in response to an earlier hostile firing of a rocket which was intercepted by Iron Dome missiles. A series of incidents along the Gaza border have been testing a fragile truce between Hamas and Israel in recent days.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Israeli military said it targeted "armed suspects" along the barrier that separates Israel from Gaza.

An Israeli army spokesman said Israeli forces launched two raids against two Hamas-linked sites, one in northern Gaza and one in the Strip’s central district. This came in response to the rocket fire from Gaza against Israeli southern settlements near the border region earlier.

Israeli forces, early on Sunday, were reported to have opened fire at a group of Palestinian gunmen as they tried to cross the Gaza border, the military said and Palestinian health officials said three of the men were killed.

“A short while ago, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops spotted a number of armed suspects adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. An IDF attack helicopter and a tank fired toward them,” the military said in a statement.

Friday's firing of a rocket from Gaza into Israel follows the end of marches of return staged in the Strip. The Palestinian public health ministry had announced that 63 Palestinians, including 17 children and 3 girls, were injured during the marches. Victims included 32 harmed by live ammunition.

Israeli counterattacks struck agricultural land nearby a site belonging to Hamas’ military wing in Al-Tuffah neighborhood. But no casualties were reported.

“We will continue to work against attempts to harm Israeli civilians,” an Israeli army spokesperson said, blaming Hamas for all hostilities taking place.

“The Israeli shelling of the resistance positions in Gaza is a message of escalation and aggression, aimed at diverting attention from the courageous actions taking place in the West Bank, which have confused the enemy and deepened the internal crisis in which it is located,” Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum said.

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