GAZA CITY - A three-year-old Palestinian girl was killed in an Israeli raid on the Gaza Strip after the fatal shooting Tuesday of an Israeli near the Gaza border, in the latest uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Cross-border exchanges between Israel and Gaza have increased in recent days, and Israel said Tuesday it held Islamist movement Hamas responsible, as rulers of the Palestinian enclave, for any fire directed from there at the Jewish state.
Palestinian medics named the dead girl as Hala Abu Sabikha from a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
They said at least six other people had been wounded in the series of tank and air strikes throughout Gaza, including on militant positions.
The Israeli army said its aircraft, tanks and infantry “targeted terror sites in the Gaza Strip.”
“The sites included a weapon-manufacturing facility and a terror infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, a terror site and another terror infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip and a concealed rocket launcher in the northern Gaza Strip.” The army said the attacks were in retaliation for the shooting of an Israeli man who was engaged in maintenance work on the Israel-Gaza border fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
A police spokeswoman identified him as Saleh Abu Latif, 22, a Bedouin from the southern town of Rahat.
The army said Abu Latif was the “first Israeli civilian killed in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip” since a major eight-day outbreak of fighting in and around Gaza in November 2012.
Just ahead of the air strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would respond “forcefully” to the attack. On Monday, the army said troops had fired at an individual “trying to place a bomb” near the fence in northern Gaza.
Earlier the same day, police reported a rocket fired from the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave had hit southern Israel without causing any casualties or damage.
A Palestinian was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday in southern Gaza, a day after another Palestinian was killed and four wounded along the heavily fortified fence.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon stressed on Tuesday that “in Gaza, Hamas is ruler, and we hold it responsible for the shooting today from the Strip and the rocket launches in the past two days at Israel.” “I advise Hamas to not test our patience,” he said in a statement. “If there won’t be quiet in Israel, there won’t be quiet in Gaza either.”
A statement from Hamas, which does not recognise Israeli, said “the occupier and its raids will not deter or stop the resistance.”