Gaza Health Ministry Backtracks, Says Two Palestinians Killed by Accidental Explosion, Not by Israel

Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine says dead men were among its members, while sources say they were trying to fire rocket when it exploded

Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 20, 2018.
\ AHMED ZAKOT/ REUTERS

The two Palestinians who died in the Gaza Strip late Sunday night were killed by an accidental explosion and not by Israeli fire, the Gaza Health Ministry said Monday.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's military wing said the two men had been among its operatives and that they were killed while "fulfilling their duty."

Sources in Gaza told Haaretz it appeared that a group of young men tried to fire a rocket at Israel and were killed when it exploded.

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The two Palestinian men were killed in the northern Gaza Strip just after midnight on Sunday, according to the ministry. The ministry identified the two as Ayman Angar and Mohand Hamouda, both 24. 

At first, the ministry attributed the killings to an Israeli strike. The Israeli military questioned the validity of the report, however, and said Hamas blames Israel for incidents it has no connection with. 

On Friday, Gaza's Health Ministry reported that three Palestinian demonstrators, including two teenagers, were killed by Israeli army fire during Friday's protests along the Israel-Gaza border. Muamen Fathi Elhamas, 17-year-old from Rafah, reportedly succumbed to his wounds Saturday morning. Those killed Friday were identified as Majdi al-Satri, 12, and Razi Abu Mustafa, 43. 

According to the ministry, a total of 264 Palestinian demonstrators were injured in the clashes, 90 of whom were wounded by live fire.

On Saturday, media outlets in Gaza said an Israeli tank fired at a group of Palestinians in the central Strip. No injuries were reported. Earlier in the day, six fires broke out as a result of airborne firebombs being hurled at Israeli communities along the Gaza border.