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Blast in northern Gaza destroys house, said to injure 36 people; cause unclear

Hamas says it is investigating; IDF Arabic spokesman asserts building was used to store weaponry: ‘The story of this house is the story of many homes in the Strip’

A picture taken on November 1, 2017, shows a general view of buildings in downtown Gaza City and the Israeli port city of Ashkelon in the background (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
Illustrative: A picture taken on November 1, 2017, shows a general view of buildings in downtown Gaza City and the Israeli port city of Ashkelon in the background (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

An explosion was reported Saturday morning in a building in the northern Gaza Strip, with multiple people said injured.

The blast occurred in Beit Hanoun in the north of the Palestinian territory.

Palestinian reports indicated that 36 people were injured lightly to moderately. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. The Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, said it was investigating.

Reports and photos from the scene indicated a house was destroyed by the blast, and several others damaged.

In the past, blasts have sometimes been caused by accidents as operatives of terrorist organizations in the territory built bombs or otherwise handled explosives.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Arab-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, asserted in a tweet that the explosion was “the result of storing weapons inside residents’ homes.”

He added: “The story of this house is the story of many homes in the Strip. They have been turned into warehouses for weapons, military parts and missiles for terrorist organizations, and the people who pay the price in the end are the innocent civilians.”

Tuesday saw Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fire a rocket at Israel. The Israel Defense Forces did not specify where the projectile landed, but Hebrew media reports indicated it struck an open field near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the Gaza border.

There were no injuries or damage reported.

Israeli tanks attacked military outposts belonging to Hamas in response to the rocket, the IDF said in a statement. Hamas-linked media said one Gaza resident was lightly injured.

The incident came a day after two rockets were fired from the Strip toward the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, both landing in the sea just off the coast of the city. In response, IDF jets bombed sites where the Hamas terror group was digging underground tunnels in southern Gaza, the IDF said.

Though it was not immediately clear which terror group fired Monday’s rockets, the IDF said Hamas was ultimately responsible as it is the de facto ruler of the Palestinian enclave.

The rocket launches come after a period of relative quiet on the Gaza border.

In late December, Hamas and other Gaza terror groups held a joint military drill during which several rockets were fired toward the sea, in an effort to send a “clear message to the Zionist enemy.”

On the eve of the drill, Palestinians attempted to fire a projectile into Israel, but it failed to cross the Gaza border.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it expelled its rival Fatah following a bloody struggle for control of the coastal enclave. Israel has fought three large campaigns against terror groups in the Strip since Hamas took control of the area, along with dozens of smaller exchanges of fire.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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