Two Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air attack on a car in the southern Gaza Strip, according to local ambulance paramedics and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The attack on Tuesday took place only hours after Israel carried out a series of attacks on the blockaded territory in the early hours of the day, killing at least 13 people, including three members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as civilians and children.
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Israel said the initial attack was part of “Operation Shield and Arrow”.
Following the car attack, the Israeli military said on Twitter that “an aircraft struck a terrorist squad carrying anti-tank guided missiles in the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza”.
Al Jazeera’s Youmna El Sayed, reporting from Gaza, said the car was completely destroyed by the attack.
“The car was directly targeted by a drone missile. It was completely burned. More air strikes have been taking place and artillery shelling also took place in Khan Yunis,” El Sayed said.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, in West Jerusalem, said the latest attack could escalate the situation even further.
“There is a lot of concern about if this will lead to further escalation. Right now, there is a concern that there will be rocket launches towards southern Israel. It is a very tenuous situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands paid farewell on Tuesday to the 13 Palestinians killed in the earlier Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip. Mourners attended the funeral procession for those killed in the attacks in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, Anadolu news agency reported.
Four children and four women were among those killed in the Israeli attacks that targeted sites of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza.
Hamas said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for any escalation following the latest attacks.
“It is clear that Israel is taking the situation to a great escalation. They started the attacks on Gaza,” Osama Hamdan, senior spokesman for Hamas, told Al Jazeera by phone from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
“Everyone knows that Netanyahu is facing serious internal troubles with the opposition. He wants to create problems with the Palestinians in order to overcome his internal problems,” he said.
“We believe the one who will be responsible for what may happen is Netanyahu and his government. Our response as Palestinians is as usual. We have to defend our people. We have to defend ourselves. We have to protect the civilians,” he said.
Tuesday’s attack came amid rising tensions following the death of a Palestinian hunger striker in an Israeli prison last week.
At least 123 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of this year, according to Palestinian figures. Nineteen Israelis have also been killed in separate attacks during the same period.