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Middle East

Israel blames Hamas for Gaza blast

Defence minister says Hamas responsible for injury of soldier on border, after "detonation of an explosive tunnel".
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2012 14:27

Ehud Barak, Israeli defence minister, has blamed Hamas for a blast along the border with the Gaza Strip which wounded an Israeli soldier.

Barak said on Friday that Israel was currently considering how and when to respond.

"Israel views with great seriousness the detonation of an explosive tunnel along the border with the Gaza Strip, south of Kissufim" a statement released by Barak's office read.

A nearby soldier suffered minor injuries, probably from shrapnel, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The Israeli military said the blast had thrown an army vehicle 20 metres into the air, although no one was inside it at the time.

"During routine activity just inside the security fence, there was a large explosion that caused a vehicle to be thrown into the air. Luckily no one was in the vehicle at the time," a spokesman said.

The blast, on a section of the border near the southern city of Khan Yunis, was claimed by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement and came hours after Hmeid Abu Daqqa, a 13-year-old Palestinian, was shot dead by bullets fired from an Israeli helicopter in the same area, Palestinian medical officials and witnesses said.

"Thirteen-year-old Hmeid Yunes Abu Daqqa was killed by bullets fired from an Israeli helicopter during an incursion in Abasan and Al-Qarara," said Ashraf al Qudra, health ministry spokesperson, referring to two neighbourhoods east of Khan Yunis.

Witnesses confirmed that Israeli helicopters had opened fire as tanks carried out an incursion, sparking a brief exchange of fire with fighters.

A military spokesman on Friday confirmed troops had been operating in the area and had fired "towards open areas in the vicinity" after coming under attack by gunmen.

"During a routine activity west of Nirim, troops found a number of explosive devices and detonated them in a controlled manner. As a result of earlier fire toward them, they fired towards open areas in the vicinity," he said.

The Popular Resistance Committees said its fighters had confronted an Israeli force of four tanks and a bulldozer involved in a short-range incursion beyond Israel's border fence with the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli military official said the soldiers responded by firing at "suspicious locations".

The incident broke nearly two weeks of a lull in violence between Gaza gunmen and Israeli forces since the last wave of fighting that killed several fighters, mostly from Hamas.

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Source:
Agencies
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