A Palestinian teenager died Thursday after being hit by bullets fired from an Israeli helicopter in the Gaza Strip, and a booby-trapped tunnel in the same area lightly wounded an Israeli soldier, officials said.
Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, named the victim killed near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip as 13-year-old Hmeid Abu Daqqa, and said he had been killed near the border.
“Thirteen-year-old Hmeid Yunes Abu Daqqa was killed by bullets fired from an Israeli helicopter during an incursion in Abasan and Al-Qarara,” he said, referring to two neighbourhoods east of Khan Yunis.
Witnesses confirmed that Israeli helicopters had opened fire as Israeli tanks carried out an incursion east of the city.
Palestinian gunmen fired mortar rounds at the tanks, sparking a brief exchange of fire, they said.
An explosion near the area where Hmeid Abu Daqqa was shot wounded an Israeli soldier, army spokeswoman Avital Leibovitz said.
Israeli soldiers discovered the tunnel Thursday evening near the security barrier along the border, followed by a large explosion that sent a military vehicle 20 metres (yards) through the air and made a five-metre-deep crater, Leibovitz told journalists.
She called it one of the largest tunnels discovered along the border in recent years.
Leibovitz said the soldiers had ventured some 200 metres inside the Gaza Strip to defuse explosive devices placed by Palestinians.
The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza, also issued a statement claiming a bomb attack that wounded an Israeli soldier near the security barrier.
A military source had earlier said an Israeli soldier was wounded when attackers fired a rocket at an army patrol near the security barrier.
“Previously, automatic fire was aimed at soldiers who responded in the direction of the attackers,” the source said.