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Israeli Forces Kill Two in Gaza in First Strike of 2012

Common Dreams staff

Israeli forces struck today in northern Gaza leaving two dead and at least one wounded. Israeli officials reportedly suspected the Palestinians to be militants - planting a bomb along Gaza's border. Palestinian sources report that the victims were unarmed civilians. The attack is the first Israeli military strike in Gaza in 2012.

Al-Jazeera reports:

An Israeli strike has killed at least two Palestinians in northern Gaza close to the border, the occupied territory's health ministry said.

"We recovered one martyr and two other people with injuries after the air raid carried out by occupation aircraft in Beit Hanoun," Adham Abu Selmiya, a government official, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

One of the injured, who was in critical condition, later succumbed to his wounds.

AFP also reported:

The strike hit a field used by Hamas militants just east of Beit Hanun, Palestinian security sources said. There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas that the men belonged to its armed wing.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the target was "a terrorist squad that was attempting to place an explosive device by the security fence" in the second such incident this year.

She said an Israeli aircraft and the armoured corps had fired at the squad, and the device that they were trying to plant had exploded.

In 2011, there were "approximately 30 such incidents," she added.

The skies over Gaza have remained largely calm since the beginning of the year, with the army counting just five rockets fired into southern Israel.

Wednesday's air strike was the first in 2012.

AP has reported Palestinian sources claim that the young men were unarmed:

Gaza's Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said two people, one of them a 17-year-old youth, were killed. Two other men were wounded. He said the victims were unarmed, and relatives of the dead men said they were setting traps for birds near the buffer zone.

No militant group claimed them as members.

The International Middle East Media Center report:

The deceased have been confirmed as Mohammed Abu Awda, aged 23, and Ahmad Za'aneen, 17. Za'aneed was initially in critical condition, but soon succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead. The group approached the border with a cargo cart, which the watching army considered suspicious; they were thirty metres from the fence when the armoured corps of the Israeli Army, along with an Israeli fighter-jet, opened fire upon then. [...]

Mohammed was killed instantly at the scene, with conflicting reports suggesting their either two or three members of the group were also injured, with Ahmad dying shortly after. Medical sources claimed that initially, due to the heavy firing, the ambulances were delayed in reaching the scene, and health officials claim one of the ambulances sustained damage.


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