The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of Palestinian terrorist factions, took responsibility Wednesday for a sniper attack that killed an Israeli civilian near the Gaza Strip border on Tuesday.
The attack, the PRC stated, was carried out in response to Israel’s “occupation crimes” and killings of Palestinians citizens in Gaza and the West Bank.
Earlier Wednesday, Isam Daalis, an adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said that Hamas had contacted Egyptian authorities and asked them to help restore calm to the area after a sharp escalation in violence that began when an Israeli man working on the border fence with Gaza, 22-year-old Saleh Abu Latif, was shot dead from within the Hamas-controlled coastal strip.
The IAF later responded with a series of airstrikes on Hamas targets that were accompanied by fire from IDF ground forces gathered along the border. According to Palestinian sources in the Strip, two people — a 3-year-old child named Hala Sabiha and her father — were killed during the Israeli strikes, and nine were injured.
Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Mosri said the various Palestinian resistance movements were meeting to discuss their response to the attacks.
In addition to the military operation, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered an indefinite closure of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing on the southern Gaza border. Ya’alon said that the closure was due to security concerns.
In the wake of the attacks on both sides of the Gaza border fence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday convened the Foreign Affairs and Security Cabinet for an urgent discussion regarding further Israeli action in the Strip.
“This is a very serious incident,” Netanyahu said shortly after the attack. “Our policy has been to foil terror attempts ahead of time and respond forcefully, and that’s how we will act in this case as well,” he said.
The Gaza clashes came alongside a series of terror incidents this week that saw a bomb explode on a bus in Bat Yam on Sunday minutes after the occupants were safely evacuated, and a policeman stabbed in the back in near Jerusalem on Monday. There was also an attempted drive-by shooting at an IDF jeep on Tuesday night that caused no damage or injuries as well as other attacks on Israeli civilians and police in the West Bank.
Israeli sources said Hamas has pointedly neglected its duties under agreements reached following last year’s Operation Pillar of Defense, according to which Hamas was responsible for patrolling the Gazan side of the border and preventing attacks on Israel from the Strip.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.