A Palestinian man is reflected in a hospital morgue as he
reacts to the death of a relative in an Israeli shelling in
Gaza City. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot
Israeli tank fire has killed four Palestinians and
wounded 25 in the Gaza Strip after an anti-tank missile hit an
Israeli army jeep wounding four soldiers, and Palestinian
fighters fired rockets into southern Israel in a new flare-up
In a major clash that carried the risk of escalation,
Palestinian militants vowed to take revenge for the deaths of
civilians and Israel warned residents of communities near the
Gaza border to stay within 15 seconds of their blast
The casualty toll was one of the highest in a single incident
in Gaza in recent months.
Palestinians said a crowded mourning tent in the Shijaia
neighbourhood was full of people paying respects to a
bereaved family man when the tank shell exploded.
Ambulances, private vehicles and motorbikes rushed the
wounded to hospital, eyewitnesses said. Among those killed
was an 18-year-old youth.
"The occupation's targeting of civilians was a grave
escalation that must not pass in silence," said Fawzi Barhoum
of the Islamic movement Hamas which rules Gaza. "Resistance
must be reinforced in order to block the aggression."
Israel denies targeting civilians.
The Israeli military said an anti-tank missile was fired at
an army patrol along the security fence in the northern Gaza
Strip. "Four soldiers were injured as a result," a statement
In a separate incident at another location, four people were
wounded in an Israeli air strike in the town of Khan Younis.
The clash occurs at a time of renewed tension along the
Israel-Gaza frontier, only some two weeks after Egyptian
mediation calmed an earlier flare-up.
In an attack on Thursday, a 12-year-old Gaza boy was killed
by Israeli gunfire as troops fought a gun battle with
Palestinian militants. Shortly afterwards, militants blew up
a tunnel packed with explosives near the border.
The Gaza Strip, a coastal territory crowded with more than
1.5 million people, many of them refugees, is controlled by
Hamas Islamists who reject Israel's right to exist. It is
also the base for a number of other Islamic militant groups.
One of these, called the Popular Resistance Committees, said
it had fired four rockets at communities close to the border
and the towns of Sderot and Netivot in southern Israel, in
what it called "the revenge invoice" for the deaths in Gaza.
There was no report of casualties on the Israeli side.
In December 2008, Israel responded to repeated rocket attacks
from Gaza by bombing the enclave for a week then invading
with ground forces in a three-week war in which over 1,400
Palestinians were killed and 13 Israelis died.
Israel says it holds Hamas solely responsible for and
violence emanating from the Gaza Strip, regardless of which
group actually fires rockets or mortars.