Israel & Hamas trade accusations over Gaza blast that killed 6

Israel & Hamas trade accusations over Gaza blast that killed 6
At least six people have been killed in an explosion in the central Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Hamas' armed military wing blamed Israel, while Tel Aviv accused the group of persistently “distorting” reality.

The blast, in the Az-Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip, caught local residents by surprise on Saturday. Six people were killed in the explosion, while another three suffered injuries and were rushed to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, Gaza’s Health Ministry announced

The explosion allegedly occurred as Hamas members were trying to defuse an explosive device inside a building, according to a Palestinian source that spoke with Haaretz. Some local media allege that the “work accident” happened as a result of the handling of explosives that were left following the Israeli onslaught on the strip during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, AP reported

Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that the “serious and large security incident” unfolded during a “complex security and intelligence operation” in Gaza, as cited by AFP. Hamas pinned the act, a “heinous crime [that] has been committed against our fighter,” on the “Zionist enemy.” 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have firmly denied any connection to the blast, stressing to Reuters that the “IDF is not involved in this incident in any way.” In the past, explosions in the Gaza Strip were occasionally caused by the accidental detonation of explosive materials that were being handled by the militants in the Palestinian enclave.

In a separate statement on Twitter, the IDF accused Hamas of repeatedly trying to distort reality to influence public opinion in its favor. “Hamas repeatedly tries to hamper the IDF's defensive actions while distorting reality to influence international public opinion. Hamas's actions not only endanger Israeli civilians but also the people of Gaza,” the IDF said, against the backdrop of the weekly Great March of Return cross-border clashes that have been raging since March 30.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Israeli crackdown has resulted in at least 45 deaths, inclusive of two journalists, who were shot despite wearing jackets marked ‘PRESS’. More than 6,700 others have been injured in the ongoing rallies, set to conclude on May 15.

Israel believes that the six-week-long campaign is being organized by Hamas in an effort to pierce the decade-old blockade imposed on the enclave since the organization took control of the Gaza strip in 2007 elections. The IDF also believes that the number of dead and injured is being exaggerated by the Palestinian side.

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“Throughout Hamas’s activity, fake injuries and the exploitation of women and children are rampant. This was all intended to disguise terror activity, including hurling explosives & grenades, attempted infiltrations, & burning Israeli land,” the IDF said Saturday.

Despite Israel’s firm stance that it has full rights to “defend itself,” IDF's actions have drawn massive international criticism over its use of lethal force to suppress Palestinian protesters.

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