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Israel strikes 'Hamas camp' in Gaza and will further delay Qatari funds

Israel's Netanyahu threatens Palestinians in Gaza with 'lethal' response
Israel's army said warplanes had carried out a strike on a Hamas military camp in the northern Gaza Strip (Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday of a "lethal" reaction to any continued violence, a day after Israel struck what it said was a Hamas site in the besieged enclave. 
 
"Maybe there is someone in Gaza who thinks he can stick his head up," Netanyahu told soldiers at a military exercise in southern Israel. "I suggest that they understand that the response will be lethal and very painful."
 
On Tuesday, the Israeli army said it conducted an attack against a purported Hamas site in northern Gaza and announced it would continue to block $15 million of Qatari aid that was expected to be transferred to the Strip.
 
While there were no reports of injuries in the airstrikes, earlier that same day a Palestinian affiliated with Hamas was killed and four others were wounded by Israeli tank fire after an Israeli soldier was slightly injured.
 
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra identified the man killed as Mahmoud al-Abed al-Nabahin, 24, adding that one of the wounded was in serious condition.
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Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, confirmed that Nabahin was a member of its armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Hamas said two of its military wing's observation posts had been hit east of Beit Hanoun.

The Israeli army said it had targeted a Hamas observation post after a soldier was lightly wounded earlier on Tuesday when a bullet struck his helmet.

An unconfirmed picture circulating on social media showed the damaged helmet allegedly worn by the soldier.

The incidents signalled a rise in tensions after weeks of relative calm thanks to an informal truce between Israel and Hamas.

An Israeli official said a transfer of cash from Qatar to Gaza via Israel as part of the truce would not occur on Wednesday because of the violence.

Israeli election

There had been warnings of another escalation in recent days due to Israel withholding delivery of the funds which is helping to inflict a major crisis on Gaza's hospital services.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for re-election on 9 April and the payments from Qatar have sparked opposition from right-wing activists and politicians.

Qatar's ambassador to Gaza had said on Monday that the $15m in cash to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants in the enclave was expected to be delivered this week, possibly Wednesday.

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But an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu had decided not to allow the transfer on Wednesday.

The payment would be the third of six planned tranches, totalling $90m.

Palestinians have been protesting every Friday since 30 March as part of the Great March of Return.

The protest campaign calls for an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade on Gaza and for Palestinian refugees' right of return to the lands that their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

At least 251 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and thousands injured since the demonstrations began, mostly by Israeli fire during protests but also by air and tank strikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during a botched Israeli special forces operation within the Gaza Strip.

Israel maintains a crippling blockade of the strip which critics say amounts to collective punishment of the impoverished enclave's two million residents.

Egypt also upholds the siege, restricting movement in and out of Gaza on its border.