The military officer in charge of defending Israel’s border with the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday visited a greenhouse in an Israeli community that was set on fire a day earlier by a Palestinian infiltrator.
“We’ll learn from our mistakes,” Northern Brigade commander Col. Avi Rosenfeld told residents of Netiv Ha’asara.
The army in its probe into the incident said IDF surveillance had “identified the suspect near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip before he crossed over, and continued to track him throughout the incident. Following the identification large military forces were rushed to the area and operated in cooperation with civilian security forces. The forces surrounded the area where the suspect was identified.”
It said the suspect moved 500 meters into Israeli territory and that troops arrested him near a greenhouse at the edge of the farmland, about a kilometer from the community. Rosenfeld insisted that the suspect at no point posed a danger to residents.
מפקד החטיבה הצפונית אל"מ אבי רוזנפלד הגיע הבוקר לפגוש את תושבי נתיב העשרה, ביום שאחרי שהוצתה חממה בידי מסתנן מעזה. "חוקרים את האירוע" אמר לתושבים. pic.twitter.com/bnwnoolBYX
— matan tzuri מתן צורי (@MatanTzuri) November 10, 2018
“During his presence in the greenhouse area the suspect set a greenhouse alight. He was not found carrying weapons and was taken for questioning,” the army said.
Residents disputed the army’s account, telling Hadashot news the suspect had come as close as a few dozen meters from homes.
The Kan public broadcaster, meanwhile, reported that the suspect has crossed into Israel numerous times in the past, and may have been seeking to get arrested.
Greenhouse owner Uri Dreilich told Kan the damage to his property was estimated in the hundreds of thousands of shekels. “All my equipment, which I had collected over years, it all burned,” he said.
Friday’s incident came during protests along the border in which some 12,000 Gazans participated.
Reports said Palestinians also threw several explosive devices at IDF soldiers and two men tried to breach the border before retreating. The army responded with tear gas and riot dispersal means. At least one Palestinian was killed and 37 Palestinians wounded, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said.