Israeli troops have killed four Palestinian terrorists who attempted to cross through the perimeter fence from the Gaza Strip, stoking fears of escalation after months of uneasy calm.
This was the highest number of Palestinians killed in a single day since May, when an unofficial ceasefire ended the worst bout of violence in years between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules Gaza.
Lieutenant Colonrl Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, called it a “very significant attempt to attack Israel”.
“We hold Hamas responsible and accountable for any acts of violence emanating from the Gaza Strip whether they were Hamas operatives or not,” he said at a briefing with reporters.
No Palestinian group claimed responsibility.
Hamas, in a statement denying its involvement, stressed that it was an “individual act by angry youths”.
“The occupation is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on our people due to the continued siege on Gaza,” said Abdel-Latif al-Qanou, a Hamas spokesman.
Lt Col Conricus said the four were armed with automatic rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. He said Israeli soldiers opened fire when the terrorists tried to climb the fence, and that the terrorists returned fire before being killed. No Israelis soldiers were hurt.
Early in August, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist who opened fire at forces behind the fence. Three soldiers sustained light to moderate wounds.
The Gaza-Israel frontier has remained tense despite the ceasefire.
Hamas has staged weekly demonstrations along the boundary since March 2018 to protest against the strip’s dire conditions after 12 years of Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
The terror group cancelled this Friday’s protest because of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
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