The IDF said Friday that two soldiers were wounded when shots were fired at troops during the weekly riots along the Gaza Strip border. Israeli aircraft attacked a Hamas post in response, killing two Palestinians and wounding two others, Palestinian sources said.
One soldier was moderately wounded 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 soldier, an officer and a tracker, had a gunshot wound in the thigh, while the female soldier was hit by shrapnel.
The army said the soldiers were part of a patrol near the border in the southern Gaza Strip when it had come under sniper fire.
In response to the shooting an IDF aircraft attacked a nearby Hamas post, the army said.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two people were killed in the strike and two others were wounded. The ministry identified them as Abdullah Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Salouh, 33 and Alaa Ali Hasan al-Boubli, 29.
Hamas confirmed the two men killed in the air strike were members of its military wing and pledged to respond to what it called an “Israeli aggression.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad also said it held Israel responsible for the deaths, but did not claim responsibility for the sniper shooting.
“We hold the occupation fully responsible for this aggression and dangerous escalation and affirm the determination of our people to continue their struggle to regain their rights, protect their land and break the blockade,” Islamic Jihad said.
The incidents, which marked a serious escalation, came during the weekly border protests where several thousand Gazans gathered at five sites. Some of the demonstrators were rioting, throwing rocks and makeshift explosive devices at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.
A third Palestinian was killed during riots along the border, the ministry said, identifying him as Ra’ed Khalil Abu Tayyer, 19, addding that 40 protesters had been injured. The IDF said troops had identified several attempts to breach the fence.
Earlier, 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.
He was then transferred to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. The incident occurred as troops were gearing up to confront the weekly Gaza border protests.
Also Friday a balloon carrying an incendiary device sent from Gaza 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.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 3, 2019
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.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 3, 2019
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.
Last Friday, dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops at various locations along the Gaza-Israel border.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry 60 people were wounded on Friday, including 36 who were shot by live fire.
The IDF had no comment on last Friday’s injuries, but a spokeswoman said that approximately 7,000 Palestinians took part in the Hamas-led protests along the border. She said demonstrators “hurled rocks and a number of explosive devices” toward troops, and the IDF responded in accordance with standard procedures.
An Islamist terror group that seized control of the Gaza Strip from Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah in 2007, Hamas avowedly seeks to destroy Israel.