Israeli strike on Gaza kills 2 Hamas border guards
09/20/2012 06:36 GMT
by Mai Yaghi
RAFAH, Palestinian Territories, Sept 20, 2012 (AFP) - An Israeli strike on Gaza killed two Hamas border guards overnight, Palestinian medics said, but Israel on Thursday named them as "terrorists," saying one was poised to attack civilians.
"Two citizens were martyred and another was wounded in an Israeli air strike on a car in Rafah city," health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
Officials in Gaza's Hamas-run interior ministry said the air strike in southern Gaza killed two border guards and seriously wounded a third as they were patrolling the frontier with Egypt.
The ministry named the two dead men as Lieutenant Ashraf Saleh, 33, and his deputy, Anis Abu al-Aynin, 22. The third, who was seriously injured in the strike, which took place just before midnight, was also a lieutenant in the security forces.
"The martyrs were on their routine daily business of inspecting and securing the southern border of the Gaza Strip and Egypt," a ministry statement said.
Medics and an AFP photographer confirmed the strike hit an official security service vehicle.
In a statement released shortly after the raid, the Israeli military said it had targeted two members of "Defenders of Al-Aqsa" which it described as "a terrorist group sponsored by Hamas in the Gaza Strip."
It said Aynin, who had previously been involved in smuggling explosives into Israel from Sinai, "was in the final stages of preparing to carry out a terror attack against Israeli civilians."
He had previously been involved in "directing certain terror activity" in the West Bank.
The army statement accused Saleh of belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees and said he had been involved in arms smuggling and "transferring two terrorists into Egypt in order to carry out a suicide attack in Israel."
Despite an informal truce between Hamas and Israel, tensions flare periodically on the Gaza-Israel border, with militants firing rockets at Israel and the military launching retaliatory air strikes.
The last major flare-up was in June, when militants fired more than 150 rockets at southern Israel, wounding five people, and Israel hit back with air strikes that killed 15 Palestinians.
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