Israeli fighter jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza Strip

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Facility of Hamas's military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, targeted by Israel

Israeli forces fire at Palestinians trying to cut border fence between Israel and Gaza Strip on Friday (AFP)
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Sunday 27 May 2018 20:00 UTC
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Israeli aircraft struck two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, Palestinian security sources in the coastal territory said.

One of the targets, in the southern town of Rafah, was a facility of the Islamist movement's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the sources said. The other they described only as a Hamas site in the centre of the strip.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its "fighter jets struck military targets in a compound belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the southern Gaza Strip".

It did not confirm a second raid.

The statement said that the operation was in response to a brief incursion across the Gaza border earlier in the day by Palestinian protesters who immediately fled back into Palestinian territory.

It added that the strike was also in retaliation for repeated Palestinian attempts to damage the border fence and "security infrastructure" during ongoing border protests.

On Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers spotted four Palestinians who crossed the security fence into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, the Times of Israel reported.

According to the army, the four threw a petrol bomb, and left a tent inside Israel with the message: "March of Return: Returning to the lands of Palestine," the Times said.

The soldiers arrived at the scene moments later and opened fire at the individuals, who in turn fled back to the Palestinian side of the fence, the Times said. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Mass protests

Still, at least 116 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since mass protests broke out on 30 March, according to newly released figures from the health ministry in the Hamas-run strip.

No Israelis have been killed during that time.

Low-level demonstrations along the border have continued since protests peaked on 14 May, when at least 61 Palestinians died while tens of thousands of Gazans protested as the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop mass incursions into its territory.

It accuses Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.