6 members of Hamas’ Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades killed in Gaza explosion

Fighters from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, take part in a military show ahead of the 30th anniversary of the movement's founding in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis on December 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB

Hamas blames Israel for the incident which killed six members of Hamas’ military branch, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades

Six people were killed in an unexplained explosion in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, health officials said, with Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, saying they were members of its forces.

Gaza’s health ministry confirmed six people were killed, updating the figure from an initial five, and three others wounded in what residents said appeared to be an accidental explosion in the Az-Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip.

Gaza media reported the explosion was a “work accident,” meaning the fighters were killed when explosives they were dealing with went off, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza’s Islamist rulers, said that the “serious and large security incident” unfolded during a “complex security and intelligence operation” in Gaza, as cited by AFP. Hamas pinned the act, a “heinous crime [that] has been committed against our fighters,” on the “Zionist enemy.”

The Brigades said the fatalities were members of their group and blamed Israel for the explosion without providing further details.

The incident occurred during a “complex security and intelligence operation”, Qassam said in a statement, calling it a “serious and large security incident” and blaming the “Zionist enemy”.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not aware of the incident.

The blast comes after weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the border between Gaza and Israel, but there was no indication the explosion was the result of an Israeli strike.

The rallies will end on May 15, which will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment – an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “The Catastrophe”.

Since the rallies began on March 30, at least 47 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and more than 7,000 wounded.