Israel shells Gaza targets, kills teenagers in retaliation to drone strikes
The Israeli army has targeted Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip and apprehended four infiltrators from Gaza, three of them aged just 13, in response to a drone attack from the Palestinian enclave, the military said.
The Israeli strikes late Saturday came after two days of cross-border exchanges of fire in which two Palestinian teenagers were killed.
Following a Saturday drone attack, Israeli fighter jets and a drone "struck a number of Hamas military targets, including offensive naval equipment and two military compounds," the army said.
"The IDF will continue operating against all efforts to harm Israeli civilians and soldiers and holds Hamas responsible for all that transpires in the Gaza Strip and emanates from it," it said in a statement.
A security source in Gaza said Israeli "warplanes raided four positions" of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, in central and northern Gaza, causing damage but "no injuries."
According to the army, a drone launched from southern Gaza had crossed into Israeli airspace, dropped "what seems to be an explosive device" near the security fence and damaging a military vehicle before returning to Gaza.
An Israeli aircraft targeted the squad that launched the drone, but there were no injuries in that raid.
On Friday, two Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli fire during clashes on the Gaza border, while another 46 sustained bullet wounds, according to Gaza's health ministry.
The Israeli army said thousands of Palestinians took part in "especially violent" demonstrations along the border, with some throwing "fire bombs and explosive devices" at soldiers.
Hours later, Palestinian militants fired five rockets at southern Israel, hitting open fields, and Israel attacked Hamas positions in response, according to the army.
Palestinians have been holding regular mass protests along the fortified border since March 2018.
The protesters have called on Israel to end its crippling siege of the coastal enclave and demanded the right to return to lands their families fled during the war that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.
Israel says any such return would mean its end as a Jewish state and accuses Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as cover for attacks.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
There have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run-up to Israel's September 17 general election.