GAZA, (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes on Friday struck two Palestinian militants on a motorcycle in the Gaza Strip, seriously wounding both, after Islamists in Gaza fired rockets into southern Israel.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead a stone-throwing Palestinian youth during a violent protest. The day’s violence contrasted with expectations that a ceasefire deal for Gaza could be reached within days, following three weeks of talks.
Security officials of the Islamist Hamas group which controls Gaza said two members of the Popular Resistance Committees, a smaller militant faction, were hit on their motorbike near the town of Khan Yunis.
An army spokesman said the two were attacked from the air after Israeli intelligence services gleaned information that they were planning to carry out an attack inside Israel. He gave no further details.
Israeli aircraft later carried out six strikes on smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, an Israeli army spokesman said. There were no reports of casualties, Hamas security officials and local residents said.
Hours earlier, Gaza militants fired three rockets at Israel, causing no damage or injury. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the rockets, which exploded near the Israeli town of Sderot.
Hamas said on Thursday it expected a longer-term, Egyptian-mediated truce with Israel in Gaza to be announced in two or three days, cementing a Jan. 18 truce that ended a 22-day Israeli offensive.
Hamas official Taher al-Nono said the key points were to ensure an end to cross-border violence and to reopen crossings between Israel and the blockaded coastal territory. Israel has not commented on the talks.
In the occupied West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in a confrontation with stone-throwing protesters, Palestinian medics said.
First-aid workers said soldiers opened fire killing Izzedin al- Jamal, 14, with a bullet to the chest.
The Israeli army spokesman said soldiers had come under attack at a lookout post and returned fire, aiming for the lower part of the stone-thrower’s body. He said the military was investigating the incident.
Protests in Hebron have become a weekly occurrence since the war in Gaza last month in which 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
Israeli troops defend a tiny Jewish enclave wedged inside Hebron, the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.