Israel kills three Palestinians in besieged Gaza Strip

Officials say three Palestinians killed, one wounded, after overnight Israeli attacks in northern Gaza.

    At least three Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian health officials and local media, hours after three rockets were allegedly fired from the blockaded enclave.

    Maan news agency said on Sunday at least one other Palestinian suffered "critical" injuries following the overnight attack.

    Palestinian Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that three bodies had been brought to the Al-Andalusi hospital in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, as well as one person with a serious injury.

    He identified the three dead as: Mahmoud Adel al-Walaidah, 24, Mohammed Farid Abu Namous, 27, and Mohammed Samir al-Taramsi, 26.

    Medics said that Israeli forces only allowed Palestinian ambulances to enter the area hours after the attacks.

    In a statement issued late on Saturday, the Israeli army said an attack helicopter and tank had fired at "armed suspects" along the fence that separates Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip, home to more than two million Palestinians.

    In an earlier incident on Saturday night, Israeli air raids hit parts of the northern Gaza Strip, including an open field used to grow crops, as well as a position belonging to a Gaza-based resistance movement, according to local media reports.

    The Israeli military said three rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel, two of which had been intercepted by its Iron Dome aerial defence system. No Israelis were hurt.

    'Individual operation'

    Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, citing sources within the Hamas movement, said the three men killed - two of whom were members of the Islamic Jihad and one from Hamas - had acted "in some kind of freelance individual operation" that was not sanctioned by the two groups. 

    "That has been the narrative coming from Hamas for a number of these sorts of incidents that we've seen in recent weeks," Fawcett said, speaking from West Jerusalem.

    "Just last weekend, there were four armed men who were killed in a similar area near the border fence by Israeli fire," he continued.

    "The narrative from Hamas has been that this is a case of angry armed men who are acting by themselves out of a sense of anger and frustration with the current situation inside the Gaza Strip."

    Dawood Shihab, spokesman for Islamic Jihad, blamed continuous Israeli aggression for the anger among Palestinian youth.

    "There is anger among the Palestinian youth over the Israeli aggression and crimes, including the crimes in dealing with Palestinian prisoners, arrest and attacks on West Bankers, and the siege on Gaza," he told Al Jazeera. 

    Protests and ceasefires

    Israel has waged three wars on Gaza since 2008.

    The Gaza Health Ministry said that since the start of the weekly Great March of Return protests last year, the Israeli army has killed more than 300 demonstrators and wounded 17,000 others, who were officially referred to hospitals.

    The protests that began on March 30, 2018, demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, from which they were expelled during the 1948 founding of Israel, and for a complete lifting of the 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza.

    The intensity of the protests has decreased since Israel and Hamas reached an informal ceasefire in May, following the worst round of fighting since a 2014 war between them. 

    Under the truce - brokered by the United Nations and Egypt - Israel agreed to take steps to ease aspects of its crippling blockade on Gaza. However, Palestinians have accused it of slowing implementation and not taking enough measures to ease the crippling economic conditions in the coastal enclave.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies