By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA, March 13 – A Palestinian boy and his sister were killed in Hamas-controlled Gaza on Saturday when they were hit by fragments from a missile fired by an Israeli aircraft, medical officials said.
The incident took place hours after militants launched rockets into Israel.
An Israeli military statement said aircraft had targeted four militant training camps belonging to Hamas after four missiles landed in open areas in southern Israel on Friday night. No casualties were reported from the rocket strikes.
Residents of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip said Yassin Abu Khoussa, 10, died after debris from the explosion hit his home, which is situated next to a militant training camp.
His six-year-old sister, Israa, who was seriously wounded, later died in hospital, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said.
The fatalities from air strikes in Gaza were the first since last October. The Israeli army said that since the beginning of the year and including Friday’s salvo, seven rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said rogue militant groups had been responsible for the launchings.
“We will not tolerate the disruption of calm and the daily life of the residents who live around the Gaza Strip … which is why we reacted strongly against Hamas assets and we will act even more harshly if these attempts continue,” Yaalon said.
Gaza rocket fire has tapered off significantly since the 2014 war when militants fired thousands of rockets and mortar rounds into Israel. Israeli attacks killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while Palestinian fighters killed six Israeli civilians and 67 soldiers.
In a rare threat-implied statement against Israel since the Gaza war, Hamas’s armed wing said it would “not accept (Israel‘s) shedding of the blood of our children.” But it stopped short of vowing retaliation.
Beset by a months-long surge in street attacks by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Israel has little desire to see a new flare-up in Gaza, where Hamas has mostly held its fire in the past 18 months.
An Israeli official said that in its effort to tackle Hamas’s attempts at incitement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to French President Francois Hollande on Friday and that French satellite firm Eutelsat had taken Hamas’s al Aqsa television station off air.
But Gaza Strip residents said the channel was still being received via other satellites.