Four Israelis wounded in Gaza border explosion; military retaliates

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The number of Israelis wounded is the highest in a single attack since the 2014 Gaza war

The site of an Israeli air strike targeting a Hamas base in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip in December 2017 (AFP)
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Monday 19 February 2018 1:58 UTC
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An explosive device wounded four Israeli soldiers, two severely, near the border fence with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the Israeli military said.

In response, an Israeli tank struck an observation post in Gaza, causing no injuries, the military said.

According to Palestinian reports, however, the Israeli air force responded by firing four missiles at a training compound in the north of Gaza City. Two additional missiles were fired toward the city's neighbourhood of Zeitoun, Haaretz reported on its website. Earlier reports from the Strip said shots were fired at a Hamas compound east of the southern city of Khan Younis.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred along the southern frontier of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.

Israeli media said it was the highest number of Israelis wounded in a single attack since the 2014 Gaza war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a security conference in Munich called it "very serious" and pledged to "respond appropriately".

Hamas blamed

Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said a "rogue group" had claimed responsibility for the blast, likely indicating one of the more radical Islamist groups, broadly called Salafists, who are present in Gaza. 

But he insisted that "from our point of view Hamas is responsible" and said the explosive had been planted during a protest arranged by the group on Friday. 

Israel holds Palestinian movement Hamas responsible for any fire coming from the blockaded coastal enclave.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008, and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to launch attacks.