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Deadly Israeli Raids Follow Daring Gaza Crossing Attack - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Palestinian woman and her child march during a protest by the Islamic group Hamas against Israel's economic blockade (AP)

A Palestinian woman and her child march during a protest by the Islamic group Hamas against Israel’s economic blockade (AP)

GAZA CITY (AFP) – Israeli forces carried out deadly air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a day after Hamas militants detonated explosives-laden vehicles at a border crossing, wounding 13 soldiers.

Overnight air raids killed six Palestinian fighters, all members of Hamas, the Islamist movement that violently seized control over Gaza last year and refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist.

The attacks came just hours after militants detonated two booby-trapped vehicles disguised as Israeli military jeeps at the Kerem Shalom border crossing used to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza, whose economy is crippled by an Israeli blockade.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were wounded in Saturday’s attack, which Israeli Major General Yoav Galant described as the “most ambitious launched against our troops” since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

The jeeps and an armoured vehicle approached the border under the cover of fog and mortar fire. The Israeli army said it foiled an attempt to detonate the third vehicle and killed four “terrorists” who were in it.

A fourth booby-trapped vehicle approached the security fence near Kibbutz Nirim, just north of Kerem Shalom, but troops spotted it and blew it up before it could cause any harm, the army said.

The operation, which was claimed by Hamas, was the fifth time in 10 days that militants had attacked crossings with Israel.

On April 9, two Israeli civilians were killed when Palestinian militants raided the Nahal Oz crossing that supplies virtually all of Gaza’s fuel.

“The terrorists planned to execute a wider attack,” the army said, adding they may have intended to kidnap soldiers.

“Hamas is exploiting the compassion and generosity of the State of Israel by targeting humanitarian crossings. This is a deliberate attack against aiding the Palestinian population,” Galant said.

The army says about 200 trucks of humanitarian aid go through the Kerem Shalom crossing every week.

Humanitarian agencies say the aid is critical in the impoverished Palestinian territory which they say is teetering on the brink of collapse in part because of a tight embargo.

Israel says it imposes the sanctions in a bid to force militants to stop firing rockets and mortar shells at the Jewish state.

Hamas claimed it carried out Saturday’s “Explosion Warning” operation to break the Israeli blockade and warned it had more “surprises” in store for Israel.

“If the parties do not intervene immediately to save Gaza, which is dying of the siege, Hamas will work to end the siege in all possible ways,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Hamas female supporters protest against Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip near the Erez crossing (AFP)

Hamas female supporters protest against Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip near the Erez crossing (AFP)

Israeli troops, seen through a net, prepare to cross into the Gaza Strip near the Kerem Shalom terminal (AFP)

Israeli troops, seen through a net, prepare to cross into the Gaza Strip near the Kerem Shalom terminal (AFP)