Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinians and gravely wounded another in the eastern part of Gaza city on Wednesday night. These strikes came after Israeli claimed that one of its soldiers was shot and wounded by Palestinian Hamas snipers.
The Israeli army said in a tweet that its soldiers came under fire while patrolling the southern part of the Israeli border fence with Gaza. Another tweet by the IDF’s official twitter account reported that Palestinian snipers were taking cover behind 20 children at the Gaza border.
Soon after, Israeli fighter jets retaliated by attacking seven Hamas military posts in Gaza. According to the Gaza health ministry’s spokesperson, Ashraf al-Qudra, shortly after arriving at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza three Palestinians succumbed to wounds sustained from those airstrikes. Another is in a critical condition.
The three people who have died were identified as Ahmed al-Basbous (28), Abada Farawna (29), and Mohammed al-Ar’eer (27). All were members of Hamas’ military wing. It later confirmed them as fighters from the Shejaiya area in northern Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum also issued a statement later saying, “the scope of the deliberate Israeli attack on the fighters reveals that Israel has the intention of killing, it is impossible to sit idly by in the face of Israel’s crimes. The resistance forces will not give up their duty to respond to this aggression and defend the Palestinian people.”
This spike in violence comes just days after an Israeli soldier was shot dead by Palestinian sniper fire in Gaza and four Palestinians were killed by Israeli army retaliatory fire. A ceasefire deal was reached subsequently with the help of the United Nations and Egypt and it seemed to be holding, until today.
Palestinians have been protesting along the Gaza-Israel border in large numbers as part of the Great March of Return which began on March 30 this year. They are demanding an end to the illegal 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza along with a ‘right to return’ of Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes during the establishment of the state of Israel.
More than 140 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli gunfire since the beginning of these protests.