The Dallas Morning News

4 Israelis hurt by bomb at Gaza border; night of fighting ensues

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JERUSALEM — Four Israeli soldiers were wounded Saturday, two of them severely, by an explosive device that the Israeli military said had been attached to a Palestinia­n flag and placed along the Gaza border during protests there Friday.

Israel responded, first with tank fire on a Palestinia­n observatio­n post near the scene of the blast, and then — after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “severe” and promised to “respond appropriat­ely” — with airstrikes on six targets. That led to an exchange of rockets from Gaza and more tank fire from Israel.

All told, it was some of the bloodiest fighting between Israel and Gaza since the seven-week war in summer 2014 that Israel called Operation Protective Edge.

The Popular Resistance Committees, a militant offshoot of Fatah that has specialize­d in setting roadside bombs and other explosive devices, claimed responsibi­lity for planting the explosive device.

“We, from our perspectiv­e, don’t care too much which organizati­on pulled the trigger,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. “For us, there’s one address, and that’s Hamas. They are the ones who control access to the fence. Nobody has access to it without Hamas’ approval.”

Health officials in Gaza confirmed two injuries as of 11 p.m. Hamas said it had fired on Israeli jets, but Israel said its planes all returned to base safely.

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