Palestinians report airstrike in Gaza, IDF says blasts from drill

No reports of injuries after explosions heard near border fence; army refuses to say if exercise on Gazan or Israeli side of border

Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as IAF planes struck four Hamas military targets, May 5, 2016. (Screenshot/Shehab News Agency)
Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as IAF planes struck four Hamas military targets, May 5, 2016. (Screenshot/Shehab News Agency)

Palestinian sources on Tuesday claimed Israeli jets launched an airstrike on the southeastern Gaza Strip.

The airstrike hit an agricultural area near the border fence with Israel, causing damage but no casualties, according to the Palestinian reports.

The Israeli army told the Times of Israel the explosions were the results of an air force exercise.

An army spokesperson would not specify if the “test” happened on the Israeli or Gazan side of the border, nor would they detail what exactly was being tested.

Arabic reports said the airstrike hit an agricultural area close to the Israeli border. Israel’s Channel 2 News said the strike was targeting a Hamas tunnel opening, citing Palestinian media.

The Israeli army would not comment on the incident to The Times of Israel, but Hebrew media reports cited the military saying the explosion was part of an air force exercise.

Israel sporadically strikes the Gaza Strip after rockets, usually claimed by small Salafi groups engaged in a power struggle with Hamas, hit southern Israel. Tuesday’s incident was not preceded by rocket fire.

In the most recent case of tit-for-tat fire, on May 26 the Israeli air force attacked two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after terrorists in the Strip fired a rocket into Israel from the territory, causing no injuries.

Tensions have risen along the border in recent months after Israel’s discovery and destruction of two attack tunnels dug by Hamas inside Israeli territory. The operations to destroy the second tunnel sparked some clashes with Hamas, who fired mortars at the troops. A few IDF engineering vehicles were damaged in the attacks, but no Israeli soldiers were injured.

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