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Israel boosts forces near Gaza amid escalating tension

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-11-13 19:56

Israeli soldiers stand next to artillery shells and an armoured combat support vehicle positioned in an area near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel Nov 13, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Israel's army deployed artillery near the Gaza Strip border on Wednesday morning, in the second day of escalating tension between the country and Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.

Video footage on Israeli media showed cannons and armored vehicles deployed near the fence between Israel and Gaza.

The Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported that the 13th battalion of the Golani infantry brigade was deployed across the fence, adding that military officials said the move was a defensive means and not in order to prepare for a ground invasion to the Palestinian enclave.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli military's spokesman Hedi Zilberman told reporters that the army has boosted its anti-rocket Iron Dome batteries and deployed more troops near the fence.

Israel's newly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett issued a warning to militants in Gaza.

Bennett, leader of the far-right party of the New Right, said that Israel might carry out more strikes to kill militant commanders in Gaza.

"We did it yesterday, and will not hesitate to act in the future," he said, referring to a predawn Israeli strike on Tuesday on the home of Baha Abu al-Atta, a senior commander with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which killed al-Atta and his wife.

The killing triggered a spate of violence, including dozens of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and at least 250 rockets fired at central and southern Israel.

At least 15 Palestinians have been killed and 50 more were wounded in Gaza since Tuesday, according to Gaza's health ministry figures.

Meanwhile, no fatalities were reported in Israel and two people were injured by shrapnel, according to the country's MDA medical emergency service.

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