5 killed as Israeli tanks shell Gaza home 23Mar11 March 24, 2011

Ma’an News Agency – 23 March 2011

A child, teenager and three adults were killed and others injured by Israeli artillery fire which hit a home east of Gaza City on Tuesday afternoon, the second shelling and third hit of the day.

Earlier, two were injured in the same area in separate incidents involving artillery fire and a drone strike.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the involvement of civilians, in a strike she said was directed toward militants.

Medics collected bodies from a home on An-Nazzaz Street in the eastern part of the Ash-Shaja’iya neighborhood in Gaza City.

Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency services, said members of the Al-Hilu family were playing football outside of their home when the shell hit.

Eyewitnesses said ambulances took the injured to Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza city.

Medics identified the dead as:

Muhammad Jihad Al-Hilu, 11
Yasser Ahed Al-Hilu, 16
Muhammad Saber Harara, 20
Yasser Hamer Al-Hilu, 50

A fifth remains unidentified.

After 3 p.m., the National Resistance Brigades said fighters fired two projectiles toward “Israeli settlements north of the Gaza Strip,” and said the move was in response to “Israeli air raids on Gaza.”

A statement from the group said “resistance is the only way to gain our national rights.”

Israel’s military spokeswoman said an investigation was underway into the deaths of an unknown number of civilians. She said troops fired “directly toward the launch site” where hours earlier “four military-use projectiles were fired” toward Israel.

The army official said “uninvolved civilians were injured,” but blamed Hamas for operating “within a civilian population.”

She added that the army “does not seek an escalation with this act.”

It was the third Israeli strike of the day.

Shortly before 10 a.m. artillery fire injured one man in the Ash-Shuja’iyya neighborhood, just after witnesses reported Israeli vehicles penetrating the Gaza Strip in the area.

The injured man was identified as a 21-year-old Gaza resident. Medics did not say if he was a civilian or member of resistance factions which have recently been engaged in ramped-up activity near the border against Israeli forces operating there.

In a second incident that took place before noon, a man was critically injured by a drone strike in the same area.

An Israeli military statement said the fire was aimed at a group “of terrorists preparing to launch an anti-tank missile at an adjacent force, and thwarted the attempt by firing towards it, confirming a hit.”

The statement said the Israeli military would “respond with determination to any firing or other terrorist activities emanating from the Gaza Strip, and will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. The IDF warns Hamas not to continue its aggression.”

Shortly before midnight the day before, a series of Israeli air strikes injured 18, including women and children.

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