Gaza man infiltrates Israel, evades capture for nearly a day

Local residents warned to stay in their homes; soldiers eventually recover suspect several miles inside Israeli territory

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

File: The border fence along the Israel-Gaza border, August 10, 2014 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
File: The border fence along the Israel-Gaza border, August 10, 2014 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A Palestinian man who sneaked into Israel from the Gaza Strip evaded capture for nearly 24 hours before he was picked up by security forces on Wednesday morning, the army said.

On Tuesday afternoon, soldiers monitoring the closed-circuit cameras along the southern border with Gaza noticed the man cross into Israeli territory in the Eshkol region, an army spokesperson said.

“Forces located the unarmed suspect earlier today,” the spokesperson said on Wednesday afternoon.

Though troops were called to the area soon after the man crossed into Israel, they were unable to locate him. It was not immediately clear how he eluded them, the spokesperson said.

The man was found by Border Police officers over six miles (10 kilometers) inside Israeli territory, hiding near some greenhouses outside the town of Netivot, Channel 2 news reported.

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In light of the infiltration, residents of nearby communities were told to remain in their homes on Tuesday night, as it was not known at the time whether the suspect was armed.

An unmanned aerial vehicle was also brought into the area to assist in the search, according to the television report.

Once the man was caught, he was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for an interrogation, which should help shed light on the incident, the army said.

While it is not uncommon for residents of the Gaza Strip to attempt to sneak into Israel, the amount of time it took for security forces to locate the man is unusual.

The Gaza border fence contains a bevy of sensors and cameras, along with a large number of soldiers who regularly patrol the area. Infiltrators are typically caught within hours, if not sooner.

The Gaza Division was to open an investigation into the incident.

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