Palestinians wounded by Israeli tanks

Photo: Palestinians wounded by Israeli tanks
 / Arab-Israel Relations

Five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were wounded Friday by Israeli tank shells fired in response to the detonation of a border bomb, Palestinian medics and the Israeli army said.

A spokesman for Gaza's health services, Ashraf al-Qudra, told AFP that the five were wounded after the tanks targeted "two mosque minarets" east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, AFP reported.

An 11-year-old boy was in serious condition, he said.

A statement from the Israeli military said "an explosive device was activated against [army] forces operating adjacent to the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip," causing no injuries.

"The force responded with tank fire towards lookout posts used to guide the attack against the forces," it said.

An army spokeswoman told AFP that nine explosive devices were set off at Israeli forces near the border with Gaza since the beginning of the year.

While there has been no recent rise in roadside explosions near Gaza, there has been a noticeable uptick in Palestinian rocket fire at Israel in recent weeks, leading to air strikes by Israel.

The violence comes as Israeli troops stage a wide-ranging manhunt for three teenagers who disappeared from the southern occupied West Bank on June 12, with the Israeli government blaming militants from the Islamist Hamas movement.

Until June 2, when Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank formed a joint administration, the coastal territory had been ruled by Hamas.

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