Palestinians reported that at least seven people have been killed and 40 more wounded in a large explosion in northern Gaza on Thursday afternoon.
Hamas sources told Ynet that two of the seven people killed were senior operatives from the organization: Hassan Abu-Shakfa, one of the organization's commanders in northern Gaza, and Ashraf Mushtaha, another of Hamas' senior operatives.
The incident occurred in the home of Ahmed Hamouda, who is a member of the Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. A source from the organization said that the fact that the blast occurred during a meeting held by the senior operatives is evidence that the explosion was part of an Israeli attack, and witnesses also reported the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike.
However the IDF made clear no forces had launched an attack in the area. Military officials said the army was looking into whether the explosion may have been the result of ammunition detonation, but estimated it most likely appeared to be a Palestinian 'work accident.'
Palestinians said there were women and children among those wounded, five of them are said to be in serious condition.
Beit Lahiya on Thursday (Photo: AFP)
The explosion resounded throughout the far corners of the city and the house has been completely destroyed. A number of neighboring residential buildings and business establishments were seriously damaged.
Three Hamas operatives were killed in a similar mishap two months ago.
Sources in Gaza reported Thursday evening that a Palestinian was killed and three others were injured during an IDF attack east of Khan Younis.
At around 11 pm Palestinian sources reported that three Hamas gunmen were killed in an Israeli strike targeting the organization's observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day IDF forces operating in Gaza killed three Palestinian gunmen. Two of them, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, were killed in the Beit Lahiya region.
The two gunmen were spotted approaching the border fence opposite an Israeli town with the apparent intent of planting an explosive device on the fence.
Infantry troops who crossed the border to scan the area were able to locate one of the gunmen, who was killed a short time later by a tank shell. The troops continued searching the region and found the second gunman, charged towards him and killed him with small arms fire.
IDF officials said that through no large-scale operation has been launched; the army continues its counterterrorism efforts as usual.