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Israel strikes Gaza after border shootings, 2 dead in violence

Dec. 24, 2013 3:27 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 25, 2013 2:43 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli air forces launched airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian child and injuring her mother and brother, after an Israeli was shot dead at the border in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.

Spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said that Hala Abu Sbeikha, 3, was killed and her mother and brother injured in an airstrike in al-Maghazi refugee camp.

Later, three Palestinians were injured in an Israeli artillery bombing east of Gaza City.

Israeli forces also launched three airstrikes on a military site belonging to al-Quds Brigades, the militant wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, between Khan Younis refugee camp and the city of Deir al-Balah and in the al-Atatra area of the northern Gaza Strip.

A statement from the Israeli army said that tanks and air forces struck a "weapons manufacturing facility" in the southern Gaza Strip and a "concealed rocket launcher" in northern Gaza, in addition to various "terror sites."

At least six people total were injured in Israeli tank and air strikes, Palestinian medics told AFP.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian medical sources said the International Red Cross had received reports from the Israeli army that a Palestinian man was shot dead west of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Later, when they searched the area, they found no body.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was unfamiliar with any such communication with the International Red Cross.

But she said that a Palestinian on Tuesday approached the border fence near Beit Lahiya and attempted to lay and explosive device, and that after warning him to stop, Israeli soldiers fired at his lower extremities, identifying a hit.

Palestinian sources also confirmed that a Palestinian was injured near the border in the same area.

Earlier, a Palestinian sniper shot and killed an Israeli Defense Ministry employee working on the border fence in northern Gaza Strip a few hours earlier.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the man was killed while doing "maintenance" work on the border fence.

The Palestinian militant group Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the shooting, Israeli media reported.

The man was identified as 22-year-old Salah Abu Latif, according to Haaretz.

Abu Latif was a Bedouin from the city of Rafat in southern Israel, a police spokesman told AFP.

"One of our snipers hit an Israeli officer, who is in the Engineering Forces of the Israeli army, and seriously wounded him, near the borders between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel," Haaretz quoted the PRC as saying.

Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Israeli man had been working on the border fence when he was shot, and was taken to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

He died of his wounds shortly after.

An earlier version of this story reported that two Palestinians were killed in the violence. In fact, Palestinian medical sources told Ma'an that Israeli forces had notified the International Red Cross, saying they had shot a man dead on the beach west of Beit Lahiya. But when Red Crescent teams were searching the area, they found no body. An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was unfamiliar with any such communication with the International Red Cross.
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