Four Israelis wounded in Gaza border explosion; Military retaliates

Israeli-Palestinian Relations

Israel hits target in Gaza with tank fire after 'device explodes' near IDF patrol

"The IED that wounded [four] IDF soldiers was placed under the cover of yesterday's riot, attached to a flag", Conricus said, adding that the IDF holds "Hamas responsible for all aggression from Gaza".

Tensions have been building for months between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, as a humanitarian crisis intensifies in the cramped coastal enclave of two million Palestinians. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident "severe" and vowed to "respond accordingly".

There were no initial reports of injury in the Israeli tank fire against the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian security source said air strikes hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave, but there were no details on any casualties.

Earlier in the day, the IDF said that an explosive device was detonated against IDF troops adjacent to the security fence near the southern Gaza Strip.

Spokesman Jonathan Conricus said a "rogue group" had claimed responsibility for the blast, likely indicating one of the more radical Islamist groups who are present in Gaza.

The Israeli army blamed the incident on the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas and accused the group of staging "fake" demonstrations to cover their operations, which involved planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Rockets are usually fired not by Hamas, but by other groups.

In the post 2014 war reality established along the volatile frontier, Israel generally carries out limited retaliations to any militant provocations in Gaza.

These specific military targets belonging to the Hamas organization were attacked, according to a statement issued by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday evening.

The March 5 visit comes after a war of words between close allies Israel and the U.S. over settlements, and a scandal that has seen police recommend Netanyahu be indicted for graft.

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