Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars at southern Israel: Israeli army

File photo showing the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israeli side near Zikim, on May 27, 2018.
File photo showing the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israeli side near Zikim, on May 27, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of mortar shells at southern Israel on Tuesday (May 29), the Israeli army said, as tensions in the border area simmered.

A statement from the Israeli army said that "25 mortar shells were launched towards several sites in Israeli territory."

"Most of the launches were intercepted by the IDF's Iron Dome aerial defence system," the army said.

Police said that "a number of the mortars landed in open areas inside Israel," with no injuries reported.

On Monday, a Palestinian who approached the border fence with what the Israeli army said an "intention of carrying out an attack" was killed by tank fire.

A day earlier, a tank targeted an observation point of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in response to an explosive device being placed on the border fence.

Three members of the group were killed, and Israeli media said the Tuesday projectiles were Islamic Jihad's response to the attack.

At least 121 Palestinians have been killed during weeks of unrest since March 30, when Palestinians began calling to be allowed to return to their historic homelands inside Israel.

The majority were killed during protests along the border, including at least 61 on May 14.

Others have been killed in air strikes.

Israel says it is merely defending its borders and accuses Hamas of encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis.

Also on Tuesday, a group of activist Palestinians were due to set sail to breach Israel's naval blockade by boat.

The destination of the boat, carrying patients needing medical care, students and job-seeking university graduates, was not announced.

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli blockade for more than a decade, with Israel saying it is necessary to prevent the Palestinian enclave's militant Hamas rulers from obtaining means to attack the Jewish state.