Two Palestinians were killed on Saturday as Israel unleashed a wave of air strikes against the Gaza Strip, while scores of rockets were fired back from the Hamas-run territory.
The Palestinian teenagers, aged 15 and 16, were killed when an Israeli strike hit a building they were near in the west of Gaza City, the enclave’s health ministry said.
The Israeli raids on Saturday involved the “largest daytime operation” carried out by its air force in Gaza since a war in 2014, Israel’s military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.
Israel’s armed forces said dozens of strikes targeted military facilities belonging to the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas, against which it has fought three wars over the past decade.
On Saturday the Israeli military said it was conducting strikes against Hamas “in response to the terror acts instigated during the violent riots that took place along the security fence” the day before.
Among the main targets was the “Hamas Battalion HQ in Beit Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, (a) weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centres, offices and more”, the Israeli army said in a statement.
The Israeli army said air strikes carried out in the morning hit “complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility”.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group was responsible for Saturday’s barrage against Israel and that it was carried out “in response to the Israeli air strikes”.
The majority of those killed were involved in protests and clashes but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.
No Israelis have been killed, but officials said one soldier was injured by a grenade on Friday.