IDF reportedly strikes Hamas outpost in central Gaza

Israel bombs terror group observation post, gunfire heard near border communities, according to Arabic media reports

Members of the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israeli forces attacked a Hamas outpost near Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip early Saturday morning.

Gunfire was also heard around the Israeli border community of Kissufim, according to a report from Sky News Arabic.

Palestinian terrorists had attacked Israeli soldiers with grenades while trying to breach the border fence and had likely been killed in the attempt, Channel 13 reported. Israeli aircraft struck multiple Hamas sites in response, the report said.

There were no reports of Israeli injuries.

The outburst of violence comes as tensions skyrocket in the West Bank after terrorists stabbed to death 18-year-old Dvir Sorek outside the settlement of Migdal Oz. His body was found in the predawn hours Thursday outside the settlement where he was studying.

Israeli security forces arrested a suspect on Friday during searches for the killers, according to Palestinian reports.

Soldiers also reportedly confiscated the car of a suspect, a resident of the Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, near Migdal Oz, over suspicions it was used in Wednesday’s attack.

Dvir Sorek, 19, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)

The Ynet news site said that Israeli security forces apparently knew the identity of the killer or killers.

There was no confirmation of the arrest from the army, which said in a statement the manhunt for the terrorists was ongoing.

Sorek, 18, was studying at a seminary as part of a program combining Torah study and military service. He was last seen leaving the settlement Wednesday to buy books for his teachers in Jerusalem.

In an effort to locate the terrorists who carried out the Wednesday night attack, the Shin Bet security service, assisted by the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, launched a massive manhunt in the surrounding area on Thursday morning and the military deployed additional troops throughout the West Bank.

The military fears the terrorists may attempt to carry out additional attacks or serve as inspiration for other would-be attackers. These concerns were especially heightened in light of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av on Sunday.

Security forces were also reportedly concerned the terror cell behind the deadly stabbing attack may have split up, making the search effort more difficult. The group is believed to be getting assistance in evading capture.

Israeli soldiers are seen during searches in the West Bank for the terrorists who killed Dvir Sorek, August 9, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

As of Thursday night, no one had taken responsibility for killing Sorek. However, two of the largest Palestinian terror groups — Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad — praised the attack and indicated it was a response to a recent wave of East Jerusalem demolitions carried out by Israel last month.

In a statement, Hamas said it praised “our people’s heroic fighters who carried out the heroic operation that killed a soldier in the occupation’s army.” Hamas, a jihadist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Hazem Qassim, a spokesperson for Hamas, told the Gaza-based Shehab news outlet that the attack was proof of the failure of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority security forces.

The cooperation is seen as a key component to Israeli security operations in the West Bank and is seen as a bulwark against Hamas.

In recent months, the Shin Bet warned that the Gaza-based Hamas has put considerable effort and resources into recruiting operatives to carry out attacks in the West Bank and Israel.

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