Israeli planes raid Gaza after explosion


Occupied Jerusalem — Israeli military aircraft carried out a raid against a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip overnight after an explosive device detonated near the border with Israel, the military said Sunday.

"The Hamas terror organization is held accountable for all occurrences in and from the Gaza Strip," the Israel Defense Forces alleged.

"The IDF will continue to operate for the safety of Israeli civilians, by all means at its disposal," the Israeli military said, without giving further details.

According to Palestinian sources, the raid did not cause any casualties.

An explosive device went off late Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip near Israel's border fence, the army said in an earlier statement, with no casualties reported.

Israel had already retaliated, with tanks targeting a Hamas observation post.

According to Palestinian sources, the retaliatory fire slightly injured one person.

Two explosive devices were detonated Thursday along the border, which had already provoked Israeli attacks on Hamas positions.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Israel, Hamas and its allies are observing a ceasefire since the 2014 war, the third in the enclave in six years.

The truce is regularly shaken, particularly by fire from the enclave into Israel, which systematically retaliates by targeting Hamas positions, even if the attacks are carried out by other groups.

On February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.

Israel warplanes attacked 18 "targets belonging to Hamas" in Gaza in response to the blast, which severely wounded two of the soldiers, and a subsequent Palestinian rocket attack on southern Israel.

Meanwhile, an Arab Israeli suspected of having stabbed to death a rabbi near a settlement in the occupied West Bank last month has been arrested, Israeli authorities said Sunday.

Abed Hakim Assi, born in 1998, is alleged to have stabbed to death Itamar Ben Gal, 29, near the settlement of Ariel on February 5 before going into hiding in the northern West Bank.

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency announced the overnight arrest in a statement.

Palestinians who were with Assi during his arrest were also taken for questioning, the statement said.

Ben Gal, of the Har Bracha settlement, was seen in a video waiting for a bus while a man Israei authorities identified as Assi crosses the road and stabs him in the chest.

Assi's mother is an Arab Israeli and his father a Palestinian from the West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

According to media reports, he was living in Tel Aviv prior to the attack and had a background of drug abuse and social problems.

The arrest comes on the heels of a car ramming attack allegedly by a Palestinian near Jenin in the northern West Bank on Friday that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded two others, according to the army.

Tensions were high after Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas called for a day of rage on Friday to commemorate 100 days since US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinians also see the city as their capital and Trump's recognition broke with decades of US policy that Jerusalem's status would be negotiated between the parties.

At least 31 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since Trump's announcement, which set off major protests. — AFP