Two Hamas activists were killed and another injured Wednesday night during an Israeli strike in Rafah, close to the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, said the Islamist movement. In a statement, the interior ministry of Hamas confirmed the death of two "martyrs who carried out their mission." The victims were identified as Ashraf Saleh and his deputy Abu Anis el-Anine.
"The martyrs carried out their daily routine civilian mission of monitoring and securing the southern border of the Gaza Strip with Egypt," the statement said. The third man wounded was identified by Hamas as Nidal Nasrallah .The local emergency services confirmed that the Israeli raid had targeted a car belonging to the interior ministry of Hamas.
For its part, the Israeli army said its aircraft had "targeted two terrorist agents - Anis Abou Mahmoud el-Anine and Ashraf Mahmoud Saleh - affiliated with the 'Defenders of Al-Aqsa," a terrorist group sponsored by Hamas in the Gaza Strip .
According to a statement, Anis Abou Mahmoud el-Anine from Rafah, was "in the final stages of preparing a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians." He was involved in recent years in several operations, including the smuggling of explosives into Israel via the Egyptian border and "directing terrorist activities" in the West Bank, said the statement. Ashraf Mahmoud Saleh, 33, also from Rafah was engaged in arms trafficking and was involved in the smuggling of two activists to carry out a suicide attack in Israel, added the Israeli statement.
In its statement, the interior ministry of Hamas warned against "the escalation of Zionist crimes." "The occupier (Israel) targets today officials from the Ministry of the Interior (Hamas) and this is a proof that it does not want the stable situation, which persists in the Gaza Strip " , it warned.
For over a year, Hamas officially strives to maintain a truce with Israel. The last major confrontation took place from June 18 to 23, and left 15 Palestinians dead, while 155 rockets and mortars had fallen in Israel, wounding five Israelis.