Two Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli forces in clashes Saturday in the Khan Younis area of the Israel-Gaza border, Palestinian media reported.
Israeli officials confirmed that clashes were taking place at the border, and said troops fired at three Palestinians, aiming for the lower parts of their bodies, Ynet reported.
Seven Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were reported killed and 19 hurt on Friday, in clashes between protesters from Hamas and Islamic Jihad near the border fence.
Israeli officials are concerned by the escalating violence with the Hamas-controlled Strip, and deployed an additional Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in Beersheba on Saturday after a rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel overnight.
Israel’s Channel 2 news on Saturday afternoon showed a Gaza Hamas preacher urging supporters to attack Israel. On Friday, Hamas’s Gaza leader Ismail Haniya called for further violence against Israel.
“Gaza will fulfill its role in the Jerusalem intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” Haniyeh said during a sermon for weekly Muslim prayers at a mosque in Gaza City.
“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the intifada… It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” he said.
Friday’s incident began with some 200 Palestinians approaching the security fence in northern Gaza, closest to Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
“They began throwing stones and rolling burning tires at Israeli forces,” an Israeli army spokesperson said. She told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that IDF forces responded with live fire towards the “main instigators.”
Before Friday, during the days of unrest in Israel and the West Bank, Gaza had remained relatively quiet. However, Hamas had urged Gazans to join a Hamas-sponsored mass protest after Friday prayers in solidarity with the struggle by West Bank Palestinians against Israel and to “defend al-Aqsa.”
Hamas leaders have praised the perpetrators of terror attacks in recent days, and increasingly urged West Bank Palestinians to carry out attacks.
On Thursday, Hamas sent its supporters enrolled at Ramallah’s Birzeit University to participate in a demonstration at the IDF’s West Bank headquarters.
Analysts believe the Hamas goal is to ignite the West Bank in an intifada which will ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.
AFP and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.