July 14 (UPI) — Israel launched a barrage of airstrikes toward Gaza and Palestinian militants responded with rockets and mortar fire Saturday, killing two teenagers in Gaza and leaving injuries on both sides of the border, officials said.
The Gaza health ministry said a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old died after an Israeli warplane struck an empty building west of Gaza city. Ten others sustained injuries and were transported to an area hospital.
Israeli officials said a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a home in Sderot, injuring a 17-year-old girl, a 20-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man. They were transported to Barzilai Hospital, The Jerusalem Post reported.
It was Israel’s largest daytime barrage against Gaza since the 2014 war. Israel Defense Forces said it targeted Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia and hit dozens of locations.
“The strike was conducted in response to Hamas’ terror activity that targeted Israeli civilians and violated Israeli sovereignty,” the IDF said. “The IDF views Hamas’ terror activity with great severity and is prepared for a wide-variety of scenarios.”
One day earlier, a weekly March of Return demonstration at the border turned violent when a Palestinian threw a grenade, injuring an IDF officer. A 15-year-old Palestinian also died from IDF gunfire.
Palestinian militants responded to the strikes Saturday by launching rockets and mortar rounds into Israel. The IDF said its Iron Dome intercepted at least 10 rockets.
Palestinians have been holding weekly Great March of Return protests at the border since March, calling for the return of refugees to their homes and lands from which they were displaced in 1948.