Israeli tanks strike Gaza after mortar attack

Feb 23 2011 - 3:37pm

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Israeli tank fire wounded 11 people, including at least six militants, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday following an attack on an Israeli patrol, the military and Palestinian officials said. One of the wounded later died in a hospital.

The Israeli military said its tanks opened fire after the militants detonated a bomb targeting the Israeli patrol near the border and then fired mortars at the soldiers.

Gaza health officials said one of the wounded militants died and another was in serious condition. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants said they fired mortars at the troops. No Israeli soldiers were hurt.

Israel and Hamas have largely observed an unofficial cease-fire since an Israeli military offensive in Gaza two years ago. But clashes sporadically flare up along the volatile border as Gaza militants fire rockets and mortars into Israel, drawing military reprisals.

Wednesday's incident marked the first time in weeks the clashes have produced casualties.

After nightfall, two rockets exploded in Israel's south. No one was hurt. One exploded in the Israeli city of Beersheba, 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza, police said, setting a house on fire.

Another rocket landed near the town of Netivot.

The rockets were Grads, which have a longer range than the homemade rockets often fired from Gaza.

Israel Radio said it was the first rocket attack on Beersheba since Israel's bruising invasion of Gaza two years ago to try to stop daily rocket salvos.

Israel hit back with an airstrike in eastern Gaza City, Palestinians said, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Also Wednesday, a large explosion in the southern Gaza Strip killed a 10-year-old girl and wounded two others. Militants from the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees said the explosion was accidental. They identified the dead girl as the daughter of the PRC's local commander.

Internal explosions are common in Gaza. They often take place in the homes of militants where explosives and other armaments detonate prematurely.

 

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