An Israeli air strike has killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip early, medical officials and the Israeli army said.

Residents said early Saturday’s target was a car driving between the town of Khan Yunis and the Deir al-Balah refugee camp.

An Israeli military spokesman said the raid, planned jointly with the Shin Bet domestic security agency, was a preemptive strike against militants planning to kidnap Israelis during the coming Jewish festival of Passover.

“significant escalation”

Hamas’ military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam, announced that the three that were assassinated by the IDF earlier Saturday in the Gaza Strip were members of its group , but did not publish their identities .

In its statement, Izz al-Din al-Qassam said that the strike marks a “significant escalation” and that Israel will be held accountable for its actions.

Al jazeera, AFP

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