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Middle East

Israel bomb Hamas bases, killing two Palestinians, after border blast wounds four Israeli guards

Border incident involved highest number of Israelis wounded in a single attack since the 2014 Gaza war, media reports said

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 February, 2018, 2:12am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 February, 2018, 8:27pm

Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air attack, Gaza medical sources said on Sunday, after four soldiers were wounded in an apparent bombing on the border with the Palestinian enclave.

Israel’s army said it attacked “18 terror targets” belonging to Hamas in two waves of air strikes following the blast.

“Eight targets were attacked in a military compound near Deir el Balah, which belongs to the Hamas terror organisation, including weapon-manufacturing and training infrastructures,” it said in a statement on Sunday.

The two Palestinian fatalities were identified by the Gaza health ministry as Salam Sabah and Abdullah Abu Sheikha, both 17, who were killed east of Rafah in southern Gaza.

According to Palestinian witnesses, they were shot by Israeli forces near the border on Saturday.

The Israeli army said its forces had fired “warning shots” at a number of Palestinians approaching the border “in a suspicious manner”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a security conference in Munich called the Gaza border incident “very serious” and pledged to “respond appropriately”.

A Palestinian security source said the Israeli air strikes hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave.

Earlier in the day the army said “two soldiers were severely wounded, one moderately and one slightly” when a home-made bomb blew up along the border fence with Gaza.

In response Israeli forces said a tank quickly opened fire at an “observation post” in southern Gaza, causing no injuries on the Palestinian side.

Israeli army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said a “rogue group” had claimed responsibility for the blast.

But he insisted that “from our point of view Hamas is responsible” and said the explosive had been planted during a protest arranged by the group on Friday.

Netanyahu will visit the White House next month, a senior US administration official said on Friday.

The March 5 visit comes after a war of words between close allies Israel and the US over settlements, and a scandal that has seen police recommend Netanyahu be indicted for graft.