Palestinians say three killed in IDF Gaza strike were boys aged 13-14

Army says it attacked a squad of Palestinians who were apparently trying to place explosive device near border fence in southern part of coastal enclave

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Illustrative: A picture taken on on October 27, 2018, shows smoke rising following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Illustrative: A picture taken on on October 27, 2018, shows smoke rising following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Three people killed in an IDF strike in the Gaza Strip on Sunday were young teens, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

The IDF said it carried out an airstrike targeting three Palestinians who were attempting to sabotage the fence surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The army added that the suspects were “apparently in the process of planting an explosive device” at the southern part of the coastal enclave.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry identified the three who were killed in the strike, near the city of Deir Balah, as Khalid Abu Said, 14, Abdelhamid Abu Dhaher, 13 and Muhammed al-Satari, 13.

Earlier Sunday, the Gaza health ministry announced that a Palestinian had died of gunshot wounds sustained two days earlier, in clashes on the Israel-Gaza border.

The death raised to seven the number of Palestinians killed as a result of Friday’s clashes, when thousands again thronged the border fence. The Gaza health ministry said 170 others were injured.

A Palestinian woman runs with a Palestinian flag, amid black smoke from tires burned by protesters, during clashes following a riot near the border with Israel east of Gaza City on October 26, 2018. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

According to the IDF, some 16,000 Palestinians gathered at five locations along the border on Friday, burning tires and throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Later, 34 rockets were fired at Israel overnight and into Saturday morning, according to the IDF, 13 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Two of the rockets fell in Gaza and the rest were said to have landed in open areas.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft attacked 95 targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad announced later on Saturday that it had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end an escalating exchange of fire with Israel.

Palestinian protesters hide behind the border fence during a protest on the beach at the border with Israel near Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, October 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

There was no immediate acknowledgement of the ceasefire declaration in Israel, which in the past has denied proclamations by Gaza-based terror groups regarding understandings to end the fighting.

Israel views Hamas as ultimately responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory it controls, regardless of the source.

The rocket fire came amid a flareup in violence in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, a rocket was launched at southern Israel from Gaza, triggering sirens in a number of communities in the Eshkol region, ending a week-long stretch of relative calm in the coastal enclave. In response to that attack, the IDF said it hit eight Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including training bases and a weapons production facility.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots dubbed the “Great March of Return,” which have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks, bombings and attempted border breaches as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of the Strip in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members.

An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.

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