GAZA - An incident in the northern Gazan territory on Tuesday, further escalated the violent dispute between the Israeli military and the Islamist militia, Hamas, that has ruled the Gaza Strip for over a decade now.
The Israeli Military said in a statement that two Hamas gunmen were killed in return fire after they launched a shooting attack on the country’s forces.
The Israeli military said in its statement that the army returned fire after shots were fired at its soldiers from a Hamas post in the northern Gaza Strip.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Military wrote on Twitter, “Moments ago, terrorists fired shots towards IDF soldiers near the northern Gaza Strip from a Hamas post. In response, an IDF tank targeted the post from which the shots were fired. No injuries to IDF troops were reported.”
The Israeli army also circulated a video, which reportedly appeared to show a tank striking a military post in the Gaza Strip.
In its statement, the country’s military said that it was prepared "to target any aggression against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for everything happening in and from the Gaza Strip.”
The military further confirmed that no Israeli troops were injured in the exchange.
However, disputing the military’s claims, Hamas dubbed Israel’s attack on the two men as a “criminal act.”
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which is Hamas's military wing issued a statement in which it said, “An Israeli strike killed two members of the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas movement after shots were fired at soldiers.”
The group added that the two men were Hamas snipers, who were killed in northern Beit Lahiya.
The Palestinian Sunni militant group said that the two men had been taking part in a live-fire exercise within a compound on Gazan territory.
It identified the dead Palestinians as Ahmed Murjan (23) and Abdel-Hafez al-Silawi (23), and confirmed that they were members of the group.
However, while the Israeli military said it responded to the shooting against its forces with tank fire, Gaza said that two of its members were killed in a drone strike.
Following the attack, Hamas warned Israel that it would pay for the attack.
The group said in a statement, “The resistance cannot allow the occupation to impose a policy of bombing sites and targeting fighters without paying the price.”
Further, commenting on the attack, top Hamas member Mushir al-Masri described the attack as a "ceasefire violation" for which Israel would "suffer the consequences.”
In four months since the weekly protests started along the Gaza border, at least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and one Israeli soldier has been killed by a Gaza sniper.
While Israel maintains that Hamas is attempting to carry out cross-border attacks under the guise of massive protests, the Palestinian militants have denied these claims.
The two sides have been engaged in prolonged violence along the Israel-Gaza border since March this year.
While the Israeli military has carried out dozens of airstrikes in the enclave, Hamas has fired rockets into Israel.
Further, Palestinians has flown kites and helium balloons laden with incendiary material over the border by Palestinians in Gaza, that have sparked fires in Israeli forests and farmlands.