Two Gaza Teens Killed by Israeli Fire After Approaching the Border, Palestinian Ministry Says

The bodies of the two were found in the morning in southern Gaza ■ Two others were wounded and taken to the hospital earlier from the same area

An Israeli tank maneuvers along the border fence with the southern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz  Nirim, Israel February 17, 2018.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Two Palestinians were killed and two others were wounded Saturday night by Israeli shells when they approached the Gaza border, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The two wounded Palestinians were evacuated to hospital overnight and only this morning two bodies were found in the area, east of Rafah, the ministry added.

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The bodies were identified as Salem Mohammed Sabah and Abdullah Ayman Sheikha, both 17, from Rafah.

The Israeli military struck 18 targets in the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours following an escalation on the border with the enclave. A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in an Israeli community on Saturday, causing property damage. The army said on Sunday that the rocket sirens that went off in Israeli communities near the Gaza border overnight were false alarms.

A wounded Palestinian man arrives the Rafah hospital in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 17, 2018.
SAID KHATIB/AFP

Earlier Saturday the military said it carried out a "large-scale" strike in the Strip, hitting multiple targets, including a Hamas cross-border attack tunnel stretching from the enclave to Israeli territory.

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"We attacked 18 targets, the response was powerful,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio on Sunday. The minister said he will reasses the situation again at 12 P.M.

When asked about the harsh conditions in the Gaza Strip, he said that "The basic mistake is to wonder where we are wrong. Abbas has stopped transferring the budgets; he used to transfer $260 million. Hamas is investing in rockets and tunnels, not in infrastructure. There is no place for qualms against Israel, we're not building terror tunnels or trying to take over Gaza."

Device explodes on border

Earlier on Saturday, four Israeli soldiers were wounded – two seriously and two others moderately – when an explosive device was set off near the troops at the fence bordering the southern Gaza Strip.

The Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva said on Sunday that the condition of one of the two soldiers that were seriously wounded by the blast had improved to moderate. The other soldier's condition is still severe and he is sedated and ventilated, the hospital said. The two other soldiers wounded in the incident remain in moderate condition.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the incident unfolded when soldiers from the Golani Brigade and the Engineering Corps came toward the border fence after noticing a Palestinian flag hung in its vicinity. After the soldiers approached the flag, the device exploded.

The military believes that the Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza, an umbrella group made up of militants from different armed factions, hung the flag there during Friday's demonstration in order to attract the soldiers. The committee described the explosion as "a heroic act in response to the enemy's infiltration into the Gaza Strip."

The Popular Resistance Committee was founded during the second intifada. The organization, which operates within the Strip, was behind several terror attacks in the past. Today the group is considered to be a protégé of Hamas and requires the latter's approval for every action it takes.