The Israeli army said its troops shot dead four heavily armed Palestinians on the Gaza border early yesterday, alleging one of them had managed to cross and throw a grenade at soldiers.
There have been frequent clashes along the Gaza border since the Palestinians began organising regular mass protests there in March 2018.
But yesterday’s exchange was unusual due to the weaponry the Israeli army said was involved on the Palestinian side.
“The terrorists were equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, RPG grenade launchers and hand grenades,” an army statement said.
A spokeswoman said “the army opened fire after one of the terrorists scaled the barrier and hurled a grenade at the soldiers.”
No casualties were reported in Israeli ranks.
Conricus restated Israel’s longstanding position that it holds Gaza’s rulers Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, since they control it.
A Hamas statement condemned Israel’s killing of the four Palestinians as a “crime”. But the Islamist rulers of the Palestinian enclave made no claim of responsibility and did not say if the four were members of its armed wing.
Palestinian sources said the four men all came from the village of Wadi al-Salqa, close to the Israeli border.
Palestinian demonstrations at the border demanding the lifting of Israel’s more than decade-old blockade have often led to violence and a deadly response from the Israeli army.
At least 301 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the border area since March 2018, the majority during the demonstrations. Seven Israelis have also been killed.