Troops come under fire on Gaza border, after PM visits area
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Troops come under fire on Gaza border, after PM visits area

Palestinian media says IDF returning fire near Nahal Oz, shortly after Netanyahu visits frontier communities further south

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Israeli soldiers as he tours the southern Israeli border with Gaza. May 03, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Israeli soldiers as he tours the southern Israeli border with Gaza. May 03, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Shots fired from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon struck an IDF vehicle near the northern border with the Palestinian enclave, the army said in a statement.

No injuries were reported, but heavy army engineering machinery was damaged by the volley, which came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured a southern section of the Gaza frontier.

Troops were searching the area for the attacker, the IDF spokesperson said.

Palestinian media in the Gaza Strip reported intense gunfire by Israeli forces near Nahal Oz immediately after the report of shots striking the vehicle.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Gaza, which has seen increased tensions with Israel in recent weeks, with Israeli officials warning of a possible uptick in violence.

The army did not detail what kind of engineering vehicle was struck, but Israel frequently uses earth-moving equipment on the border to dig out and destroy Hamas tunnels running under the border.

The incident came several hours after Netanyahu visited the southern part of the Gaza border with top IDF brass and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, near the site where the army discovered a Hamas tunnel last month.

Netanyahu, along with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, visited communities near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The prime minister received situation assessment briefings from Zamir and met with soldiers stationed on the border, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. Netanyahu told the soldiers that the past two years, since the summer 2014 war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have been the quietest in many years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Israeli soldiers as he tours the southern Israeli border with Gaza on May 3, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Israeli soldiers as he tours the southern Israeli border with Gaza on May 3, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Earlier in the day, Israel’s Tax Authority said an attempt to smuggle several tons of ammonium chloride into the Gaza Strip in recent weeks had been foiled by security and customs officials.

Some four tons of the chemical — enough to make hundreds of rockets, according to Israeli security officials — were found buried in salt shipments to the Gaza Strip that were making their way through the Nitzana crossing between Israel and Egypt in early April.

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