Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Three injured in Israeli air strikes on Gaza

Children inspect damage caused by an Israeli air strike on a smuggling tunnel near Rafah (24 November 2009)
Two smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza were hit early on Tuesday

Three Palestinians have been injured in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical workers have said.

The Israeli military said it had hit a "weapons-manufacturing facility" near Gaza City and two smuggling tunnels near Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

The strikes were carried out overnight in response to two rockets fired from Gaza into Israel on Monday, it added.

In a separate incident, the Islamist group, Hamas, said two of its fighters were killed in an accidental explosion.

The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades members had been carrying a rocket in a neighbourhood to the east of Gaza City when it blew up, it said.

There are unconfirmed reports that four others were injured by the blast. The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of the incident.

Rocket attacks from Gaza have decreased since Israeli forces undertook an offensive against Hamas, which controls the coastal territory, last December and January, but there have been sporadic attacks since then.

The Qassam rockets launched on Monday evening landed in an uninhabited part of the western Negev desert. There were no reports of damage or injury.

The attacks violated an agreement over the weekend by militant factions in Gaza to halt them.

'Gas shortage'

Separately, Oxfam warned of growing cooking gas shortages in Gaza, which is subject to a strict Israeli blockade.

Some of the bakeries that supply Gaza's 1.5 million people with bread have already closed down, others are running low, the UK-based charity warned, adding that hospitals may soon have to cut back on cooking and laundry operations.

It said the Union of Gas Station owners blamed the shortages on the fact that Israel has shifted gas transfers from the Nahal Oz crossing to the one at Kerem Shalom, which has lower capacity.

Gaza needs 4,500 tonnes of gas a month in summer and 6,000 in winter, Oxfam said, and has so far received only 697 tonnes in November.

The Israeli defence ministry said it was aware of the problem, and that several truckloads of gas had entered Gaza on Tuesday.

It said one of the main reasons for the shortages was the security threat at the Nahal Oz crossing, which has been attacked by Palestinian militants in the past.

Security sources said problems with the gas pumping system after an upgrade at Nahal Oz meant no gas had been transferred through the terminal for the past two weeks, but transfer were expected to resume soon.

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