Explosive device detonated near IDF troops on Gaza border; tanks shell Hamas post

No injuries reported to Israeli soldiers; farmers ordered to temporarily evacuate area

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The turret of an Israeli Merkava tank is seen in Israel from a position along the border east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on March 8, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Illustrative: IDF tanks stationed near the Gaza border on August 5, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Palestinians set off an explosive device on Wednesday near Israeli soldiers operating on the border with the Gaza Strip, the military said. Israeli tanks fired shells at a Hamas observation post in response.

There were no soldiers reported hurt in the incident.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, troops conducting routine operations on the western side of the border fence — built in Israeli territory — were targeted by an IED.

In response, the IDF said tanks fired toward an observation post belonging to the Hamas terror group which rules the strip, near the city of Khan Younis.

Israeli farmers close to the border fence were ordered to clear the area temporarily.

The Eshkol Regional Council told residents that there were no further instructions following the incident.

The attack came hours after a rocket attack in the early hours of the morning.

The IDF initially said a rocket that had been fired from Gaza landed within the confines of the Strip, but later confirmed that it had landed in Israeli territory, close to the border fence.

Israel did not immediately retaliate to the rocket attack.

The rocket was fired following a deadly raid against terrorists in the West Bank. The operation set off a gunbattle that left six Palestinians dead, including Hamas member Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, the wanted terrorist suspected of carrying out the attack that killed two brothers in the West Bank town of Huwara last week.

The other five Palestinians killed were members of terror groups, including another Hamas member, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, and three claimed to be members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terror group loosely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.

Over the past year, Gaza-based groups — notably Islamic Jihad — have launched rockets at Israel in response to members being killed or arrested in the West Bank.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

Smoke plumes billow during an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the West Bank on March 7, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Following the Huwara shooting, a group of radical settlers rampaged through the town, burning homes and vehicles. A Palestinian man was killed in unclear circumstances and multiple people were injured in violence that shocked many in Israel and abroad, with some terming the incident a “pogrom.”

A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 70 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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