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Israeli shelling, airstrikes in Gaza injure Palestinian, after rocket falls in Israel

Feb. 6, 2017 10:45 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 6, 2017 10:42 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces resumed attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip late Monday afternoon with two rounds of artillery shells, hours after a Palestinian fisherman was injured in one of a series of Israeli army airstrikes in northern Gaza, in response to a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel Monday morning.

The cross-border fire also came after locals in Gaza reported two separate incidents of Israeli forces opening fire at them Monday morning, with no injuries resulting from the incidents.

Locals told Ma'an that at around 4:30 p.m., an artillery shell hit a "resistance post" east of al-Maghazi refugee camp and another hit an open area east of Deir al-Balah. No injuries were reported.

Commenting on the reports, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that an Israeli army tank had targeted a Hamas post in southern Gaza, which came in response to shots that were fired at Israeli forces near the border area of the southern Gaza Strip.

At around 2 p.m., the Israeli army launched two airstrikes at an open area and at a militant post west of Beit Lahiya, which left one person injured. He was identified by locals sources as Muhammad Muhammad Mousa Saadallah, a local fisherman. The extent of his injuries remained unclear.

A third Israeli airstrike hit a waterfront area west of Beit Lahiya.

Earlier, airstrikes targeted the former building of the Israeli Civil Administration in Beit Lahiya without causing injuries, locals said.

The Israeli army said in a statement that the air force targeted three Hamas posts in the airstrikes, in response to a rocket fired earlier Monday morning. Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rocket fire.

Prior to the airstrikes, the Israeli army said after 10 a.m. that an Israeli tank fired into the northern Gaza Strip, claiming they were targeting a Hamas post, in response to the rocket.

The Israeli army said the rocket had landed in an open area in Ashkelon, reporting no injuries or damages.

Meanwhile, locals reported earlier Monday that Israeli forces fired at Palestinian locals and fishermen in two separate incidents, while Israeli bulldozers also made an incursion into central Gaza to level lands.

Despite the ceasefire agreement that ended the deadly 2014 war, Palestinians who work near the “buffer zone” often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone.

Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip and started pursuing them. No injuries or detentions were reported.

Separately, Israeli forces stationed at watchtowers opened fire at the southern Gaza towns of al-Qarara and Khuzaa east of Khan Yunis, without causing injuries.

Also Monday morning, Israeli military vehicles launched a limited incursion into lands east of the city of Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that four Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli military vehicles set off from the Kissufim military base and staged an incursion, approximately 150 meters into eastern Deir al-Balah.

Eyewitnesses added that no shooting occurred during the incursion.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into the three reports.

The Israeli incursions came a day after a Hamas fighter succumbed to wounds he sustained a day earlier in an “accidental explosion” in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in a statement that 37-year-old Muhammad Walidal-Quqa had been involved in "jihadist activities, including manufacturing and assembling explosives."

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas' inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.
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