Israel strikes Gaza after rockets fired

Exchange of fire came hours after two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM - Israeli forces attacked Hamas positions in Gaza after rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave hit the Zionist state, the military said early Saturday.

The exchange came hours after two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers during weekly protests near the fence separating the Gaza Strip.

Late Friday, "five projectiles were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel," the army said.

The projectiles hit open fields in southern Israel, army spokesman said.

In response, an "aircraft and tank struck a number of Hamas military targets in the northern Gaza Strip, including a post and military positions," the army said in a statement.

Later Saturday, a drone launched from southern Gaza crossed into Israeli airspace, the army said in a separate statement.

It "dropped what seems to be an explosive device" near the separation fence, damaging a military vehicle before returning to Gaza.

In response, an Israeli "aircraft targeted the squad which launched the drone", the army said.

A Hamas security source said there were no casualties resulting from any of the Israeli strikes.

During protests along the fence on Friday, two Palestinians aged 14 and 17 were shot dead by Israeli forces, the Gaza health ministry said, with another 46 Palestinians wounded.

The Israeli army claimed thousands of Palestinians took part in "especially violent" demonstrations along the fence, which included throwing "fire bombs and explosive devices" at soldiers.

Palestinians have been holding regular mass protests along the fortified fence since March 2018.

The protesters have called on Israel to end its crippling siege of the coastal enclave and demanded the right to return to lands their families were expelled from during the war that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

Israel says any such return would mean its end as a "Jewish state" and accuses Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as cover for attacks.

At least 308 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began, the majority during the demonstrations.

The protests have calmed in recent months. Israel has launched three large-scale military assaults on the besieged Palestinian enclave since 2008.

West Bank stabbing

Later on Saturday, an Israeli man and his teenage son were wounded in a stabbing attack in the occupied West Bank, Israeli occupation forces and medics said.

"An assailant stabbed two Israeli civilians after they had entered Azzun in order to receive medical treatment," the army said, referring to a Palestinian village east of Qalqilya in the north of the occupied territory.

"Security forces are operating to apprehend the assailant" in a suspected "terror attack", the army said.

Ambulance service Magen David Adom reported late Saturday morning that its medics had treated a 60-year-old man and his 17-year-old son after they were stabbed near Azzun.

According to Israeli media reports, the two had been visiting a dentist in Azzun and were leaving when a Palestinian youth approached and asked them if they were Jews, before stabbing them.

The reports said the dentist gave them first aid.

The father was lightly wounded in his hand, and the son, stabbed in the back, was in a stable condition, according to medics.

Palestinians sporadically attack Jewish settlers in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, mostly in stabbings and car rammings. Palestinians largely see such attacks as legitimate resistance to what they call Israel's colonial, military occupation and illegal settlement program.

Most Israelis see them as terrorist attacks, and there have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run-up to Israel's September 17 general election.