In two separate incidents, one of which included an attack on Israeli forces, troops opened fire on four Palestinians who tried to enter Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, killing three of them, the army said.
In a third case, also in the southern Gaza Strip, two Palestinian suspects were arrested after they crossed into Israeli territory, the military said.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, in the first incident, two of the Palestinians were spotted trying to damage the security fence and infiltrate into Israel. IDF soldiers opened fire, killing one of them, and took the second into custody.
“Two suspects tried to cross the border into Israel and damage the security fence in the southern [Gaza] Strip. One suspect was killed, the other apprehended for questioning,” the army said.
Minutes later, the army reported that a second pair of Palestinian suspects had broken through the security fence and hurled improvised explosive devices at IDF soldiers.
The troops fired at them, killing the two attackers, the army said.
A short while ago, 2 terrorists who infiltrated into Israel hurled explosive devices at IDF soldiers. In response, the soldiers fired towards the terrorists, who were killed. It should be noted that this is the second incident this evening
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) April 29, 2018
In the third incident, the two Palestinians were spotted as they tried to cross the security fence. They were detained, shortly after they made it across the border. The men were found to be in possession of wire-cutters and knives, the army said.
The two men, along with the surviving suspect from the first breach, were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.
The army refused to specify what type of munitions it used against the Palestinians in the first two incidents, but residents in the area reported hearing loud explosions, indicating a tank may have been used in at least one of the incidents.
There were no special instructions given to residents of the Israeli communities near Gaza, despite the multiple security incidents along the border.
The breaches came amid heightened tensions in the Gaza Strip, following weeks of demonstrations, clashes and numerous infiltrations, by both armed and unarmed Palestinian suspects. Protesters, many sent to the demonstrations by Hamas, have decried Israel’s blockade on the Strip and called to erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”
Earlier on Sunday, the IDF said it arrested an alleged Hamas operative who was attempting to sabotage a security camera near the defunct Karni crossing on the Gaza border under cover of a dense early morning fog.
Despite the weather, the soldiers tracked the saboteur’s movements and arrested him after he broke the pole on which the camera rested.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit released video footage of the attempted sabotage of the border fence.
“This is yet another terrorist action,” the IDF said, accusing Hamas of “taking [such actions] in an attempt to infiltrate into Israeli territory and hurt Israel’s citizens. This is part of a broader effort by Hamas to give its terror efforts a civilian cover and turn the border fence area into a battle zone.”
The statement added: “The IDF is determined to carry out its responsibility to defend Israel’s citizens, and won’t allow the security infrastructure that protects them to come to harm.”
Sunday night’s clashes brought to 47 the Gaza death toll since the start of the riots on March 30, according to statistics from the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry.
The Israeli army on Friday released video footage showing what it said was an attempt by hundreds of Palestinians to breach the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel. The confrontation, which drew IDF fire, was one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests.
Four people were killed and more than 300 hurt in Friday’s rallies, the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it had “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters.
It said “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter Israel, and went on to say that the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement,” halting the crowd.
Video footage showed a young Palestinian man placing a burning tire along the fence in an apparent attempt to set it on fire. In other scenes, a small group lobs stones at an Israeli military vehicle on the other side of the fence.
The footage also showed large numbers of Gazans close to the border fence.
Footage filmed inside Gaza showed youths at a barbed wire fence, being urged to “cut, cut.”
In other incidents Friday, the military said Palestinian crowds rolled burning tires, hurled rocks and flew kites with flaming objects attached with the goal of damaging the fence and other Israeli targets.
The IDF also released a photo appearing to show a group of youths tugging at barbed wire along the fence.
Israel has repeatedly expressed concern over the possibility of a mass breach, in which Gazans would stream across with terrorists among them, wreaking havoc. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has vowed in the past that protesters would “breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.
Gaza officials said about half of the 300 wounded Friday were hit by live fire, with the other half hurt by tear gas.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.