The Latest: Hamas denies involvement in attack on Gaza fence

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Latest on violence at the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

A Hamas spokesman says four Palestinian militants who were killed crossing the Gaza perimeter fence were engaging in “an individual act,” stressing that the operation was not planned by Hamas.

Abdel-Latif al-Qanou said Saturday that the attempted infiltration was carried out by “angry youths” who were reacting to Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza.

“The occupation is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on our people due to the continued siege on Gaza,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel holds Gaza’s ruling Hamas authorities “responsible and accountable for any acts of violence emanating from the Gaza Strip,” regardless of whether Hamas ordered the attack.

Israel and Hamas reached an informal cease-fire in May, following the worst bout of fighting since a 2014 war between them.

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1:20 p.m.

An Israeli army spokesman has confirmed that troops killed four Palestinian militants who attempted to cross the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Saturday that it was a “very significant attempt to attack Israel.”

Speaking at a briefing with reporters, he said Israeli soldiers opened fire when the militants tried to climb the fence, and that the militants returned fire before being killed. No Israelis soldiers were hurt.

Conricus said the four were dressed in military uniforms and carried rifles, grenades, wire cutters and rocket propelled grenades.

He added that while the “organization affiliation” of the four remained unclear, he said Gaza’s ruling Hamas authorities were “responsible and accountable for any acts of violence emanating from the Gaza Strip whether they were Hamas operatives or not Hamas operatives.”

Israel and Hamas reached an informal cease-fire in May, following the worst bout of fighting since a 2014 war between them.

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8:45 a.m.

The Israeli military says it killed an unspecified number of militants who had crossed the Gaza perimeter fence and threw a grenade at soldiers.

The army said the militants were killed Saturday morning and carried RPG launchers and assault rifles.

There was no immediate confirmation from Gaza’s Hamas authorities, who govern the Palestinian enclave.

Local Palestinian media reported three to four people approached the fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel and Hamas reached an informal cease-fire in May, following the worst bout of fighting since a 2014 war between them.

Hamas has staged weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza frontier since March 2018 against the strip’s dire conditions following 12 years of Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

The militant group canceled this Friday’s protest because of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

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