Israeli military: Airstrike targets Gaza militants

Posted at 6:46 AM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 06:46:34-05

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military carried out a rare airstrike in Gaza on Wednesday, targeting a group of Palestinian militants placing explosives along the border and killing one of them, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The Israeli military said its aircraft located the group along Gaza's northern border with Israel as they were planning to detonate an explosive device against Israeli troops on the other side. "Forces guarding the border with Gaza face a growing threat from hostile terror groups attempting to destabilize the situation on the ground," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 31-year-old man was killed in the strike and three others were wounded. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group, later identified the deceased as a member, saying he was targeted while planting explosives.

In a separate statement, Salah Bardawil, an official from Gaza's ruling Islamic Hamas movement, said Israel was "playing with fire" in the airstrike. He did not elaborate.

The airstrike marked a rare flare-up along the Gaza border, which has remained largely calm since a devastating 50-day summer war in 2014.

Some clashes have erupted along the border in recent months but most of the confrontations and violence has taken place in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers have killed 24 people in recent months.

At least 141 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since mid-September. About two-thirds of them are said by Israel to be attackers. The others were killed in clashes with troops.