Israeli soldier killed along with four Palestinians in violent border demonstrations

Israeli soldier killed along with four Palestinians in violent border demonstrations”

Spokesperson of the Israeli army said Israeli forces continue working against a "group of targets" in the Gaza Strip; he held the Hamas movement entirely responsible for the consequences of its actions.

Palestine's Health Ministry reported earlier that four Palestinians were killed Friday by Israeli forces in two separate incidents near the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

The killing of an Israeli soldier near Gaza outside of war is an unusual event and elicited a fierce Israeli response against Hamas targets in the coastal territory, as warplanes carried out continuing air strikes.

More than 135 mostly unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the border protests began on March 30.

The military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza, named the three men as Shaban abu Khatar, Mohammed abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.

Israeli soldier killed along with four Palestinians in violent border demonstrations

"Today, an IDF combat soldier was killed during operational activity near the southern Gaza Strip".

Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, blamed Hamas for escalating tensions over the past three and a half months, since the beginning of the Hamas-orchestrated mass protests along the border fence.

On the Israeli side of the border, the authorities instructed residents to remain close to bomb shelters as they braced for retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot as Israeli forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians taking part in the "Great March of Return" demonstration.

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war, raising worries of another round of confrontation.

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"Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink". Three Hamas members were killed in retaliatory strikes that included tank and aircraft fire, he said.

Recent weeks have also seen a sharp increase in arson attacks in Israel from balloons and kites launched from Gaza.

Israel's military said it had targeted "eight military posts" belonging to Hamas.

On Friday, Hamas vowed to continue its protests and the launching of incendiary devices towards Israel.

"Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed", he wrote on Twitter.

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