As Gaza border heats up, explosion hits near IDF soldiers
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As Gaza border heats up, explosion hits near IDF soldiers

Combat engineers return fire in third cross-border incident in 24 hours; earlier, patrol attacked with mortar shell

File: A photo taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows a Hamas outpost on a hill (right) along the border, February 25, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)
File: A photo taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows a Hamas outpost on a hill (right) along the border, February 25, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)

IDF combat engineers operating on the border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday reported hearing a loud explosion there, hours after a mortar shell was fired at another group of soldiers along the border.

There were no injuries or damage in either incident.

After the explosion, the engineering troops followed a routine procedure and opened fire at possible hiding spots in their area.

Earlier, after the mortar attack, an IDF tank returned fire toward a “suspicious position” nearby, an army spokesperson said. The tank fire hit an observation post manned by the military wing of Hamas. No one was hurt in the retaliatory strike, but the Hamas post was damaged.

Wednesday’s attacks were the second and third from Gaza in 24 hours, after soldiers came under fire on the Strip’s northern border Tuesday.

The earlier attack saw shots fired from across the border, striking an IDF vehicle operating nearby. No injuries were reported, but heavy army engineering machinery was damaged by the volley, the army said.

Tuesday’s attack came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured a southern section of the border. Palestinian media in Gaza reported intense gunfire by Israeli forces near Nahal Oz immediately after.

During his tour of the border with Gaza, Netanyahu told troops that the past two years, since the summer 2014 war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have been the quietest in many years.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for either Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s attacks. Tensions along the border have increased in recent weeks, with Israeli officials warning of a possible uptick in violence.

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