Hamas members in Gaza .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Izzadin Kassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said on Sunday it holds Israel responsible for an explosion that killed several of its members in the Gaza Strip Saturday evening and vowed to exact revenge.
The explosion in the Zuweyida neighborhood in central Gaza killed six Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the coastal enclave. The Kassam Brigades later identified the victims as its members.
“We hold the criminal Zionist enemy directly responsible for this crime,” the group said in a statement. “The Zionist enemy will pay a high price. We say that, with God’s permission, the settling of accounts is inevitably coming.”
The statement claimed the brigade members died after they succeeded in thwarting “a major Israeli spying plot.”
It further claimed that Israel planted a “spying system” in Gaza armed with an automatic explosion device “to carry out revenge against the Palestinian people and its resistance”, suggesting “the spying system” had blown up and killed the Kassam members.
An IDF spokeswoman and a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) spokesman declined to comment on the explosion.
On Sunday, funeral processions were held throughout Gaza for the Kassam members who were killed in the blast.
Video of a funeral procession in Deir al-Balah showed brigades members clad in military fatigues and face masks, carrying coffins with Hamas flags draped over them.
At one of the funeral processions, Hamas Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh said the Kassam members who died in the explosion “saved hundreds of lives” and “preserved the resistance’s security depth.”
Separately, the IDF said Israeli security forces in the border region between Israel and Gaza on Sunday shot dead two Palestinians it said attempted “to infiltrate into Israeli territory and sabotage security infrastructure.”
The Hamas-run Health Ministry identified the two as 23-year-old Bahaa Abdel Rahman al-Qudeih and 20-year-old Muhammad Khalid Abu Raida.
Since March 30, thousands of Gazans have protested at the border region to demand that Palestinians refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel.
The IDF has described the protests as “a violent riot,” saying participants have thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at soldiers, opened fire on them, set tires on fire to provide cover for attacks and attempted to cross the border into Israel.
Security officials have warned protesters that approaching the border fence puts their lives in jeopardy.
However, local and international rights groups and Palestinian officials have accused Israel of targeting and using excessive force against unarmed civilians.
Since the start of the protests, at least 52 Palestinians have died in protests at the border region.
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