Sources at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City reported that three members of the same family were killed Saturday evening in a blast in the Sajaiya neighborhood east of the city. Four people were wounded in the explosion.
According to Palestinian reports, an IDF tank shell fired at a house in the area caused the blast, killing a mother and two of her children.
Ruwan Hajaj's body evacuated from scene of blast (Photo: Reuters)
Pursuant to an Israel Air Force investigation it was found that, while aerial forces did identify and shoot at five armed suspects in northern Gaza, this attack was not related to the explosion in Gaza City.
One of the current conjectures is that the explosion resulted from Palestinian terrorist activity in the area.
Earlier, the IDF claimed that it carried out no tank or artillery fire at the area , and stated that the circumstances of the incident were unclear. However, the IDF almost simultaneously reported that the Air Force identified a group of gunmen in the northern Strip area and fired a missile at its direction. According to the Palestinians, the two incidents are in effect the same.
The IDF stated that army aircraft fired a missile at gunmen in northern Gaza at 8:08 p.m., while the report of the Sajaiya blast was received at 8 p.m., and that the two incidents can in no way be linked.
"In this operation, one of the central and most important principles is to avoid harming innocent people," a military official said.
The Palestinians said that the house hit belongs to the Hajaj family, and that no gunmen were in the area during the strike. Initial reports say that all the casualties in the blast are members of the same family: Amana Hajaj, 42, her six-year-old daughter Ruwan and her son Muhammad, 20. Several other family members were hurt in the explosion, while the father survived unharmed.
The Palestinian health minister, Bassam Naim, blamed the IDF Saturday of using a new type of shells and explosives in the current Gaza offensive. According to Naim, the medical teams in Gaza have had to treat a new kind of injuries in recent days.
According to Naim, the number of people killed since the last operation began has reached 40, including the casualties in the West Bank. The number of injured totals 187, Naim said.
In recent hours the Palestinians reported of a significant decrease in the number of IDF soldiers in northern Gaza and east of Gaza City.
3 killed near Karni crossing
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported Saturday that at least three Palestinians were killed in IDF offensives in the area of the Karni Crossing. Israeli troops advanced 3-5 kilometers (roughly 2-3 miles) into Palestinian territory in search of tunnels and explosive devices, and identified a cell of three gunmen approaching forces. Soldiers opened fire on the gunmen, killing two of them.
Some 250 Palestinians participated in a funeral procession two of the Palestinian gunmen killed Saturday, carrying the bodies through the streets of Gaza City towards the local cemetery.The casualties Saturday raised the Palestinian death toll over the past few days to about 40.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report