Six Hamas members killed as large explosion rocks central Gaza
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Six Hamas members killed as large explosion rocks central Gaza

Palestinian reports call the blast a ‘work accident,’ apparently referring to an accidental detonation of explosives; terror group blames Israel, which denies involvement

Illustrative: Palestinian men look at the debris of a tuk tuk vehicle at the site of an explosion east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 14, 2018. Four members of Islamic Jihad died in the blast (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)
Illustrative: Palestinian men look at the debris of a tuk tuk vehicle at the site of an explosion east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 14, 2018. Four members of Islamic Jihad died in the blast (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

A large blast rocked the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least six members of Hamas’s military wing, the terror group said.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the fatalities were its members. It blamed Israel for the explosion, without providing details or proof.

Palestinian media, by contrast, said it was a “work accident” — that is, that the terrorists were killed by their own explosives.

The incident occurred during a “complex security and intelligence operation”, the brigades said in a statement, calling it “serious and large security incident” and blaming the “Zionist enemy.”

The IDF said it was unaware of the cause of blast and had nothing to do with the incident.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, but Palestinian reports referred to a “work accident” — a term usually used to describe the accidental detonation of explosives being prepared by one of the terror groups in the Strip.

The Ynet news site, quoting sources in Gaza, said the men, including senior members of the Hamas military wing, had been trying to dismantle an old Israeli missile that had failed to explode.

The Hamas-run health ministry said several bodies were brought to a local hospital.

It identified the dead as Taher Essam Shahin, 29, Wissam Ahmed, 37,Musa Ibrahim Salman 30,  Mahmoud Walid, 34, Mahmoud Mohammed al-Touashi, 27, and Mahmoud Saeed Hilmi al-Qshahawi 27. It called them all “martyrs.”

Last month four Islamic Jihad members were killed in an accidental explosion near the Gaza Strip border with Israel.

The group said in a statement that the four died during “preparations,” without giving further details. Army Radio reported that the terrorists were killed while carrying explosives in an all-terrain vehicle, suggesting the blast may have been a “work accident.” AFP said they were riding a tuk tuk vehicle which exploded a few hundred meters from the border with Israel.

The incident comes amid tensions along the security fence in recent weeks, with the Palestinians holding mass marches near the border, and in some cases rioting, for the last six consecutive weekends. Israel says the violence is being orchestrated by Hamas, which it accuses of trying to carry out border attacks under the cover of large protests.

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