Israeli forces opened fire in the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing two Islamist militants and four civilians, including an 11-year-old boy, in retaliation to Wednesday's border attack where two Israeli civilians were killed. Marc de Chalvron reports.
GAZA, April 11 (Reuters) - Israeli army forces killed four Palestinian civilians—including an 11-year-old boy—and two militants in a cross-border raid into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Friday, Hamas and medical officials said.
Medical officials said the boy was shot in the abdomen and chest. Four militants and six civilians, including two teenagers were also wounded in the clash, the officials said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces operating in the central Gaza Strip shot several militants who fired at the troops. She had no details on their identity.
Hours earlier, Israeli air strikes killed two Palestinian gunmen belonging to Islamist Hamas near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Seven other gunmen were wounded in the attacks, the medical officials said.
The army confirmed the overnight air strike.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday vowed Israel would strike Hamas after Gaza militants killed two Israeli civilians at a border oil terminal with Israel.
Israel, which withdrew forces and settlers in 2005, frequently mounts raids into the Gaza Strip in what it says is an attempt to stop militants from firing rockets at southern Israeli towns. Several days of fighting six weeks ago left more than 120 Palestinians and three Israelis dead.
Hamas seized Gaza after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah in June.
On Thursday, Israel halted all flow of fuel into the Gaza Strip, a day after Palestinian militants attacked the fuel terminal on the border that is used to supply the territory, killing two Israeli civilian employees of the facility.
Two Palestinian militants and two civilians were also killed when Israeli troops responded.
Israel tightened its cordon of the Gaza Strip after the
Hamas takeover, and before Wednesday’s attack had been allowing in only a fraction of the gasoline and diesel that Gaza normally consumes.
Israel has accused Hamas authorities of not distributing fuel that had already been pumped into tanks on the Gaza side of the border before Wednesday’s attack on the depot. Its account was confirmed by Gaza’s Fuel Suppliers Association, which has said members are holding back fuel in protest at tight supplies.
Hamas official Mushir al-Masri warned Israel from further tightening the blockade of the territory, saying “all options are open before our people to break the siege.”
“We threaten nobody, but we say the siege must be lifted before it is too late. If there will be an explosion nothing will stand before our people—neither borders nor dams,” Masri said.
Hamas Islamists breached Gaza’s border with Egypt in January, allowing hundreds of thousands of Gazans to stream across the frontier at Rafah to stock up on food and fuel for 10 days before it was re-sealed.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Western-backed government holds sway in the occupied West Bank, condemned statements recently made by some Hamas officials in Gaza threatening to breach the borders with Egypt, saying such statements constitute “grave harm to Palestinian taboos”.
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