A Palestinian woman was killed when Israeli tank shells hit her home east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, the southern city’s Nasser hospital said.
The Israeli fire came in response to a spate of mortar attacks on troops along the Gaza border fence since Tuesday.
The woman was identified by the hospital as Zeina al-Amour, 54.
The Hamas-affiliated Palestinian news agency Shehab posted photos on Facebook from the aftermath of the tank fire.
Palestinian media also reported that a number of people were injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes in the area of Rafah on Thursday, also in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Air Force confirmed its aircraft hit four military posts belonging to Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Palestinian enclave, Thursday afternoon.
The air raids came after Palestinians fired another round of mortar shells from the southern Gaza Strip Thursday afternoon at Israeli troops operating on the Gaza frontier. IDF forces responded with tank fire, shelling nearby “suspicious” sites believed to be the source of the mortar launches, the military said.
“Since May 3, 2016, Hamas has repeatedly fired and launched mortar rounds against forces during operational defensive activities adjacent to the security fence with the Gaza Strip. This is the 10th incident in the past two days,” the military said in a statement Thursday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene an emergency meeting of the security cabinet later Thursday evening to discuss the escalation in violence along Israel’s southern border.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Hamas that Israel would not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the lives of its citizens.
“Terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip need to know that if they try to disrupt our lives, they will delivered a severe blow,” he said at a service to mark the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day. “We will not tolerate a return to a routine of shooting and attempts to harm our civilians and soldiers. We will take firm action with an iron fist, as we have in the past few days, against the terrorist organizations in the Strip, led by Hamas, which is responsible for the shooting and incidents in Gaza.”
Earlier in the day, the IDF revealed that it had discovered a Hamas “terror tunnel” burrowing into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. It was the second such tunnel discovered in a month.
Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, head of the IDF’s Southern Command, issued an order declaring the surrounding area a closed military zone.
Zamir’s order pertains particularly to the area surrounding Kibbutz Sufa, which sits a few kilometers north of the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Thursday was the third day in a row in which IDF troops on the border came under mortar fire, as they worked to uncover the new tunnel on the Gaza side of the border fence.
No troops have thus far been injured in the attacks, though some engineering vehicles have been damaged, according to the army.
The second tunnel, which is slated to be destroyed in the coming days, is 28 meters (90 feet) deep and was located just a few kilometers from the location of another tunnel discovered and destroyed last month, the army said.
It was not immediately clear if the tunnel was newly constructed or if it remained from the 2014 Gaza war.
Despite the increased tension along the border with Gaza in recent weeks, the years since the 2014 conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge, have been the quietest in over a decade, in terms of rocket fire and attacks coming from the coastal enclave.
Since the discovery of the first attack tunnel last month, the IDF and the Israeli government have stressed there are no indications of an imminent large-scale conflict with the Hamas terrorist organization.
Hamas has similarly voiced through proxies that it does not wish to renew conflict with the Jewish state at this point in time.