GAZA CITY (AP) — The Israeli military said its soldiers killed three Palestinians who crossed the Gaza border fence and threw an explosive device at troops on Tuesday.
The army said its troops fired on three suspects who crossed the security fence and “hurled a grenade or an explosive device” at the soldiers. There was no immediate comment from the Gaza authorities.
The incident along the Gaza frontier threatened to undermine efforts to reach an informal ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas that rules the Palestinian enclave.
Earlier in the day, a senior Hamas official said that incendiary balloons Palestinians launched from the Gaza Strip recently were a signal to Israel to accelerate unofficial “understandings” meant to ease the crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory.
The resumption of flammable balloons and other explosive devices flown across the border broke a month of calm that has largely prevailed since Hamas suspended its weekly protests along the Israeli-Gaza frontier.
The quiet is meant to bolster an informal truce between Israel and Hamas being negotiated by international mediators.
Speaking to journalists, Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya accused the Israelis of moving too slowly.
He said the balloons had been launched by disgruntled individuals, not Hamas. But he said his group was “satisfied” with the launches and is ready to send more “if the occupation doesn’t pick up the message”.