GAZA, March 19 (Reuters) - Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip
wounded five Hamas
security officers and a boy on Saturday after militants launched mortar bombs into Israel
, lightly injuring two people, Gaza medics and the army said.
The Israeli military confirmed dozens of mortar shells had landed in Israel, one hitting a house at an agricultural community close to the border, and that two people were hurt.
Israeli media reports put the number of shells fired by militants at around 50, making it one of the heaviest barrages launched by militants for months.
Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for firing 10 of Saturday's mortars, an unusual move after a long period in which it had let other smaller militant groups do its bidding.
A military spokesman said Israel was holding Hamas solely responsible for the attacks.
Gaza residents reported hearing constant shelling along the enclave's border with Israel and the Israeli spokesman said tanks assisted by aircraft were firing at militant targets in the coastal strip.
Israel maintains a partial blockade of the Gaza Strip to try to curb Hamas and other militant groups who refuse to recognize it or join peace moves by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
's rival Fatah
faction, which rules the occupied West Bank.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Andrew Roche)