The armed wing of Hamas has fired more than 12 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel in response to Israeli airstrikes on the territory that have left at least six Palestinians dead in recent days.
The rocket fire from the al-Qassam Brigades – a rarity, given Hamas’ tacit truce with Israel – followed the deaths of two 17-year-old Palestinian teenagers shortly after midnight Tuesday in an Israeli strike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. Witnesses told the Agence France Presse the two had been attempting to breach Israel’s security fence when they were hit. The Israeli military said it had struck “a terrorist squad handling an explosive device.”
Four other Gazans have died in Israeli air attacks over the past few days. According to ynetnews.com, two suspected militants were killed whilst riding a motorbike near the northern town of Beit Hanoun on Monday evening.
Militants from other Palestinian groups in Gaza have fired more than 275 rockets and mortars into Israel since January, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement Monday, according to Haaretz. It is unclear why Hamas’ armed wing has now chosen to engage Israel directly.
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Meanwhile, a militant group calling itself the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem claimed responsibility for an attack just inside Israel’s southern border with Egypt on Monday, in which two men crossed into Israel from the lawless Sinai peninsula and opened fire on civilians working on the construction of a border security force, according to the BBC.
One of the Israeli workers was killed, while both attackers – identified by the militant group as an Egyptian and a Saudi – died in clashes with Israeli forces, the Associated Press reported.