2 armed Gazans cross into Israel, are arrested

2 armed Gazans cross into Israel, are arrested

Suspects enter Israeli territory from southern Strip with grenade, knife; are picked up after getting past security fence

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

View of the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip from Israel. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)
View of the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip from Israel. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinian men who crossed into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, armed with a grenade and a knife, on Tuesday morning, the army said.

The military said the suspects were picked up shortly after they entered Israeli territory.

They were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for further questioning, the army said.

It was not immediately clear what the suspects’ intentions were in Israel. There have been multiple cases of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip entering Israel with weapons with the goal of being arrested and sent to prison, seeing incarceration in Israel as preferable to life in the coastal enclave.

The security situation along the Gaza border has been tense over the past month. Thousands of Palestinians have gathered regularly along the border for demonstrations that have included attempts to damage the security fence around the Strip, as well as violent actions against Israel, notably the sending of kites bearing burning containers over the border in order to set fire to farmland.

IDF troops have responded to the riots with live fire, killing 40 Gazans since March 30, according to the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry.

On Monday, four unarmed Palestinians who infiltrated into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip were also arrested by IDF soldiers. The four suspects got past the security fence near the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim, before they were picked up. The suspects were also handed over to the Shin Bet for interrogation.

Such infiltrations are a relative routine occurrence, especially as of late. Generally, the suspects are monitored by Israeli soldiers through surveillance cameras as they make their way toward the border fence and are arrested shortly after they enter Israeli territory.

However, in the most serious recent infiltration incident, on March 27, a group of three Palestinian men walked more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the country, over the course of several hours, before they were arrested outside the Tzeelim army base.

They were found to be in possession of grenades and knives.

While initially their intentions were unclear, the army later determined that the men were not looking to carry out a terror attack, but to get caught and arrested.

The army’s failure to immediately realize that there’d been a breach — signs of the infiltration were only found hours after it had happened — prompted Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to call for a full investigation of the incident.

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