IDF fires warning shots at Gazans as border heats up

In two separate incidents, army targets Palestinians approaching Israeli territory; no injuries reported

Palestinians retreat from the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip as an IDF patrol approaches in 2012. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90/File)
Palestinians retreat from the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip as an IDF patrol approaches in 2012. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90/File)

IDF soldiers fired several warning shots at Gazans in two separate incidents on Monday, a day after three Palestinians were reportedly injured in a cross border exchange.

No injuries were reported in the Monday incidents.

In the first skirmish, several Palestinians approached the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, prompting army gunfire, according to the Ynet news outlet.

The navy also reportedly shot at a Palestinian ship off the Gaza coast. The circumstances of the latter incident were not immediately clear.

Earlier Monday, the army closed off the road between the Erez crossing and Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara after Gazans gathered at the border fence.

The incidents came amid spiraling tensions along the border, breaking several months of calm between Israel and Gaza following the summer’s 50-day war.

On Sunday, IDF soldiers reportedly opened fire at Palestinian protesters in the northern Gaza Strip during a demonstration near the Erez border crossing with Israel. Three men sustained gunshot wounds to the lower extremities, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

An Israeli military spokeswoman quoted by the news agency said that “40 or more Palestinians were hurling rocks and rioting violently” in the area and, consequently, Israeli forces “attempted to disperse the riot” and “fired toward the main instigators’ lower extremities.” Soldiers also fired warning shots before the incident, Israel Radio reported.

A series of other protests took place in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and in Bani Suheila and Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip, on Sunday with no reports of gunfire in any of the other demonstrations.

On Friday IDF troops shot at two Palestinian men attempting to cross the border fence into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, wounding one. One of the men managed to get over the fence, and was shot in his leg after he ignored soldiers’ demands to stop. He was lightly to moderately injured. The other man fled back into the Gaza Strip.

Earlier last week an IDF soldier was seriously wounded when he was hit by a sniper while on patrol near the border. Palestinian sources said that a heavy exchange of fire ensued, with IDF tanks shelling striking a target east of Khan Younis. Jets also fired on Gaza targets, and Palestinians said that the commander of Hamas’s surveillance unit in the area, Tayseer al-Ismary, was killed in the exchange with Israeli troops.

Following last week’s incident, Israeli media reported the IDF had deployed two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in southern Israel. Batteries were placed near the southern cities of Beersheba and Netivot, both targets of heavy rocket fire during the summer war, according to several reports.

On December 19 IDF warplanes hit targets in Gaza, including a Hamas training ground, following a rocket attack on southern Israel a day earlier. The Kassam rocket fell near an Israeli community in the Eshkol region near the Gaza Strip, causing no casualties or damage.

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