Israel kills two Hamas gunmen in Gaza, sides dispute circumstances

Clay Curtis
August 9, 2018

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Wednesday he was "deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's mutiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel".

Meanwhile, an official from the Islamist Gaza Strip government told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that Hamas may be ready to reach an agreement toward a truce with Israel.

United Nations officials have however called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas where 80 percent of the two million population are dependent on aid.

The nearly daily airborne arson attacks have been part of months of weekly border protests led by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after it took control of the territory in 2007.

A Hamas militant was killed in one strike, with at least 12 others injured, the health ministry in Gaza said.

"Hamas hit the "enemy" with a large number of rockets", it said.

At least two Palestinians were wounded in raids aimed targeting a Hamas base in the southern Gaza Strip, the enclave's health ministry said. At least five other civilians in Gaza were also injured. Two pregnant women were also taken to Barzilai Medical Center after they went into labor as a result of the stress.

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In a statement, the Hamas terror group said: "We are delivering on our promise".

The exchange came amid continued attempts by Egypt to broker a broad cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.

Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014.

The strikes came after two fighters from the military wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday.

Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force at the protests, but the military said they only opened fire in self-defence or on people trying to infiltrate its territory.

More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces - most during weekly protests at which thousands of Palestinians have expressed their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.

One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. One of the jets struck a factory that was being used to produce components intended for the construction of terrorist tunnels leading into Israel, the army said.

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