After 2 soldiers shot, IDF checks whether Gaza sniper targeted senior officer

Fourth Palestinian reportedly dies overnight from injuries sustained during Friday border violence

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza border, May 3, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza border, May 3, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

The army was investigating the possibility that a Palestinian sniper targeted a senior Israel Defense Forces officer during riots on the Gaza border Friday.

The army’s Gaza division would conduct an investigation into the shooting, which injured two soldiers who were part of a patrol near the border in the southern Gaza Strip, the Walla news site reported.

One soldier was moderately wounded in the attack and a female soldier was lightly hurt, the IDF said. Both were evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka hospital in Beersheba. Media reports said the male soldier, an officer and a tracker, had a gunshot wound in the thigh, while the female soldier was hit by shrapnel.

In response to the shooting, an IDF aircraft attacked a nearby Hamas post, the army said.

A picture taken from the Palestinian side of the border shows troop treating two wounded IDF soldiers after they were shot by a sniper on May 3, 2019. Screencapture/Channel 13)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two people were killed in the strike and two others were wounded. The ministry identified the two killed as Abdullah Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Salouh, 33 and Alaa Ali Hasan al-Boubli, 29.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group, confirmed the two men killed in the airstrike were members of its military wing and pledged to respond to what it called an “Israeli aggression.”

The Hebrew-language Twitter account of the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency issued a threat to Israel Friday night: “We will respond to the crimes of the occupation and the killing of our people.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad also said it held Israel responsible for the deaths, but did not claim responsibility for the sniper shooting.

The incidents, which marked a serious escalation, came during weekly border protests in which several thousand Gazans gathered at five sites. Some of the demonstrators rioted, throwing rocks and makeshift explosive devices at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

A third Palestinian was killed during the border riots, the Gaza health ministry said, identifying him as Ra’ed Khalil Abu Tayyer, 19, adding that 40 protesters had been injured. The IDF said troops had identified several attempts to breach the fence.

Overnight Friday, a fourth Palestinian died from injuries sustained during the riots, according to Hebrew media reports.

Earlier Friday, Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian man who crossed the northern Gaza border security fence, the army said, adding that the soldiers who searched him discovered a knife, and a balloon from Gaza carrying an incendiary device set off a brushfire near the town of Tekuma five kilometers east of the coastal enclave. Firefighters managed to put out the blaze shortly after it was detected.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza border, May 3, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

On Thursday, a Hamas delegation led by the group’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce with Israel, Hamas officials said.

That agreement has appeared to be under stress in recent days, with Palestinians launching arson balloons and rockets into Israel and Israeli warplanes striking Hamas targets.

Hamas has said the incendiary balloons were a message to Israel not to hold up the transfer of millions of dollars in Qatari aid funds to the cash-strapped Hamas government in Gaza.

Islamic Jihad, a Hamas-allied group backed by Iran, said its head will also attend the meetings.

Israel’s air force carried out air raids early Thursday morning on “a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip,” a military statement said.

It said they were in response to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from Gaza into Israel.

Palestinian terrorists responded by launching two rockets into southern Israel. The projectiles fell in an open area, and no injuries were reported.

Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in a violent 2007 coup.

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