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Four Palestinians killed, 120 others injured as Israeli military strikes Gaza Strip

Palestinians react with bloodied hands outside a Hamas outpost that was struck by Israeli bombardment near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

At least four Palestinians have lost their lives and nearly 120 others sustained critical injuries when Israeli military aircraft and battle tanks hit targets throughout the Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its acts of aggression against the besieged coastal sliver.

Two Palestinians were killed on Friday evening after Israeli artillery units fired two shells reportedly at an observation post belonging to Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas resistance movement, east of the city of Khan Yunis, located about 25 kilometers south of Gaza City, Arabic-language Ma'an news agency reported.

The deceased Gazans were later identified as Mohammed Abu Farhana and Shaaban Abu Khater.

A third Palestinian was killed after Israeli jets carried out airstrikes east of the border town of Rafah. He was identified as Mahmoud Qeshta.

Palestinians protesters, who had gathered near the border with occupied territories, flee from Israeli bombardment near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

According to Palestinian medical sources, another Palestinian, identified as Mohammed Sharif Badwan, was killed in the Zeitoun district of Gaza.

Separately, two Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian houses east of Abasan city. A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was also shot and is now in critical condition. 

Israeli artillery units also fired shells at observation posts near al-Awda refugee camp in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip as well as Bureij refugee camp in the central sector of the sliver.

Meanwhile, Israeli media outlets reported that an Israeli soldier was killed after being targeted by a Palestinian sniper in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian paramedics push a youth, who was injured during Israeli bombardment, as he lies on a gurney into a hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that the Israeli trooper was injured after Palestinian resistance fighters and Israeli military forces engaged in an exchange of gunfire.

‘Step back from the brink of war’

Shortly after the Israeli attacks, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, called on both sides to “step back from the brink” of war.

“Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right NOW”, he tweeted, adding, “Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed.”

In another development, Israel’s minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman warned Hamas of a “much tougher” response if the resistance group fired more rockets from Gaza.

“If Hamas continues to fire rockets, then Israel will respond in a much tougher way than they (the Hamas leadership) think,” he said.

The Israeli military had earlier claimed that it had intercepted two of three rocket launches from Gaza.

Lieberman’s rhetoric, however, was not left unanswered by Hamas, which warned the regime of consequences if it continued attacks on Palestinian protesters. 

Nearly 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since the “Great March of Return” began in the Gaza Strip on March 30.

A total of 14,811 Palestinians have also sustained injuries of whom 366 are reportedly in critical condition.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian paramedics operate on a youth who was injured during Israeli bombardment in an emergency room at a hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution calls on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

It also calls for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”

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