2 dead in Gaza from Israeli fire after explosion


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An explosion targeted an Israel military vehicle on the Israel-Gaza border Saturday and Israeli troops fired into Gaza, killing two civilians and wounding at least 25, Palestinian officials and witnesses said.

Ayman al-Sahbani, a doctor at Gaza's Shifa hospital, said all the casualties were civilians and among the wounded were children.

Witnesses said that following the large explosion, Israel retaliated with tank and machine gun fire toward a residential area in Gaza, hitting people who were returning from a funeral near Gaza City.

The Israeli military said they were investigating the incident. Gaza militants often fire rockets from the Israel-Gaza border area toward nearby Israeli communities and clashes with the Israeli military are common.

Rami Harra said his 17-year-old brother Muhmmad Harra was killed in the strike.

"He was at home when the explosion took place. He went out to see what happened and when he started to help evacuating wounded people who were on the ground another shell hit the place and killed him," he said outside the morgue. "Why did they kill him? I can't believe my eyes that I am seeing his dead body."

Israel carried out a broad military offensive in Gaza nearly four years ago in response to years of near daily rocket fire. Major salvos from Gaza have subsided since then, but sporadic rocket fire has continued.

Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers have largely refrained from rocket attacks since the devastating Israeli military offensive that killed hundreds of Palestinians.

Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, remains virulently anti-Israel but has sought to keep things quiet as it consolidates control of Gaza, which it seized five years ago during a brief civil war against the rival Fatah movement.

Still, it is under pressure from smaller groups to prove that it remains in confrontation with the Jewish state.

The territory is home to numerous militant groups, including murky al-Qaida-inspired organizations that do not answer to Hamas. Gaza has also been flooded with weapons in recent years, many of them believed to have been smuggled from northern Africa and into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border.