An Israeli soldier was lightly injured Friday evening from shrapnel during violent protests in the Gaza Strip. The army said it was not clear whether the shrapnel came from a grenade or a firecracker.
Some 6,000 Palestinians were said to be taking part in the protests. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 75 Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli troops, 42 of them from live fire.
Israeli soldiers captured four Palestinians who crossed into Israel from the Strip armed with a grenade and a knife. The four were arrested shortly after crossing the border and taken in for further questioning, the army said.
The incident came shortly after an incendiary balloon launched from Gaza sparked a fire in the Sdot Hanegev Regional Council and as Palestinians took part in the weekly “March of Return” rallies along the border.
Recent weeks have seen an increase in violence from Gaza, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamist organization took over Gaza in 2007, the last of which ended five years ago this week.
According to a report Friday in Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper, Israel has offered Hamas economic concessions and to ease its blockade of Gaza in return for a long-term ceasefire.
The report said the proposal was made by Egyptian intelligence officials during a meeting with top Hamas members.
While making the proposal, the Egyptians were said to warn Gaza officials that Israel is serious in its threats to carry out a wide-ranging military campaign if the violence continues.
Hamas said it was not responsible for the recent firing of rockets from the coastal enclave toward Israel, blaming “rogue elements.”
Israel has accused the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad of being behind the recent violence emanating from Gaza. But it maintains that Hamas, as the Strip’s ruler, is ultimately responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, while saying that it believes the Islamic Jihad is instigating the current unrest.
Both Israel and Egypt enforce a number of restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from arming or building military infrastructure.
Since the start of August, an increase in rocket fire and attempts by Palestinian gunmen to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with IDF airstrikes on Hamas targets, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group.
The recent attacks also came amid heightened tensions throughout the Middle East, as Israel squared off against Iran and its proxies in multiple countries, taking responsibility for an airstrike in Syria and being blamed for others in Lebanon and Iraq as well as an exploding drone incident which damaged a Hezbollah terror group complex in Beirut.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate for the Syria attack, which killed some of its members.