Israeli airstrikes have killed at least nine Palestinian fighters from the armed wings of Hamas and Fatah, making it their highest single death toll since a 2012 cross-border war.
Two of the men from the Al Hussinin brigade, a military group belonging to Fatah, were targeted by drone strikes east of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza on Sunday, witnesses said.
Seven fighters from the Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed when an air strike hit a tunnel at Rafah, in the south of Gaza.
In a statement, Israel’s army said it “has succeeded in stopping another attack against Israel by targeting terrorists who are implicated in launching rockets from central Gaza”. “The target was hit,” said the statement.
Earlier, the Israeli army carried out a drone strike against an armed group in Gaza, but the targets managed to escape, witnesses said.
Fighters in Gaza have fired at least 25 rockets and mortar shells over the border since Sunday morning, after a night of 10 air strikes.
The strikes come after the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir on July 2 triggered four days of violent clashes that broke out in East Jerusalem and have spread to more than half a dozen Arab towns in Israel, with crowds of protesters hurling stones at riot police.
Israeli police arrested six people on Sunday in connection with the murder of Abu Khdeir who Palestinians say was killed in revenge for the murder of three teenage settlers last month.