Last updated: 22 June, 2012

Two Hamas fighters found dead in bombed Gaza tunnel

Palestinians said Thursday they had recovered the bodies of two militants from a tunnel damaged by an Israeli air strike on Gaza, raising to 10 the death toll in the territory since Monday.

Thaer Mohammed al-Bik, 30, and Mohammed Zuhair al-Khaldi, 26, were killed by gas fumes as they carried out an inspection of the tunnel hit by Israeli fire on Tuesday, the military wing of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement said.

Gaza militants continued to fire across the border into Israel on Thursday but the intensity was sharply down on the previous day, as a truce declared by Hamas’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades military wing appeared to be taking hold.

By mid-afternoon, nine rockets had hit southern Israel, causing no casualties, a military spokeswoman told AFP. Another was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system.

There had been no Israeli raids.

In the evening, three more rockets were fired into southern Israel, without causing any casualties, a military spokesman said.

On Wednesday, police logged 58 rocket and mortar strikes during the day.

Late that evening, the Hamas military wing said it had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel, after three days of bloodshed in and around Gaza.

The latest round of Israeli attacks and Palestinian retaliation began with air strikes on Monday morning, just hours after gunmen from Sinai carried out an ambush along Israel’s southern border with Egypt, killing an Israeli civilian.

Israel has said that its sudden spike in Gaza operations — three deadly air raids in just over 12 hours — was “in no way related” to the border incident, with the military saying the air force was targeting militants about to attack the Jewish state.

Since Monday, 130 rockets and mortar rounds have been fired at Israel, of which three have been brought down by Iron Dome, an army spokeswoman told AFP.

One rocket slammed into an Israeli border police post, wounding four people.

The Hamas military wing said in its statement on Thursday that it had fired 120 rockets, a rare show of force from the Islamist group that had been observing a de facto truce.