Israel fires at target in Gaza, draws Russia rebuke over Palestinian deaths

Israeli fighter jets struck a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip in response to two explosive devices found near Israel's border with the territory, the military says, amid a flare-up in deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Russia slams Israel for 'indiscriminate use of force' in recent days as another death is marked

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated during protests and clashes with Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

Israeli fighter jets struck a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip on Monday in response to two explosive devices found near Israel's border with the territory, the military said, amid a flare-up in deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence.

No injuries were reported in the strike, but it came amid a wave of mass protests by Palestinians along Israel's border with Gaza that have drawn Israeli fire.

Also on Monday, the Health Ministry in Gaza said a 45-year-old Palestinian man has died of his wounds after being shot in the legs by Israeli troops during a protest late last month.

The man's death brings to 32 the number of people killed by Israeli fire since March 30. Out of that number, 26 were killed during the protests at the Gaza-Israel border. Among the others killed were Palestinian gunmen who had attempted to cross into Israel and two militants killed by Israeli forces.

Thousands of Palestinians have protested along the Gaza-Israel border as part of a series of demonstrations called by the Islamic militant Hamas group that rules Gaza. The protests are meant to last until May 15, the anniversary of Israel's founding, when Palestinians commemorate their mass uprooting during the 1948 war over Israel's creation.

Israel says the protests are a smoke screen for attacks on its troops and attempts to breach the border fence. It says militants have attempted to carry out shootings, plant bombs or infiltrate the fence, and that its snipers have only fired at "instigators" trying to carry out attacks.

ICC probing potential war crimes

The military said it struck a Hamas "terror target" in a military compound in Gaza early on Monday. On Sunday, the military said two explosive devices were found near Israel's border with Gaza, hours after three Palestinians from Gaza crossed briefly into Israel.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the Israeli army's use of force against Palestinians at protests inside the Gaza Strip was unacceptable.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized what it described as Israel's "indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population."

The condemnation came as the two countries were also embroiled in hostilities in Syria. Russia, a military backer of Syria, blamed Israel for an airstrike on an airbase near Homs late Sunday night.

The strike came a day after the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court raised concerns that Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during the current spasm of violence.

Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and its Western allies, has controlled Gaza since ousting forces of internationally recognized President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since 2009, and the most recent conflict in 2014 prompted the ICC to launch a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes.

With files from Reuters