IDF tanks shell Hamas positions after 2 Gazans start fire near border

Army stresses the men did not enter Israeli territory; exchange comes day after 3 Palestinians infiltrated into Israel with grenades

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative. Israeli Merkava tanks fire at the Gaza Strip from inside Israel on July 20, 2014. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
Illustrative. Israeli Merkava tanks fire at the Gaza Strip from inside Israel on July 20, 2014. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

An Israeli tank shelled two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday after two Palestinian men set fire to a platform near the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave, the army said.

The military said the targets were observation posts used by the terrorist group, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Earlier, two men approached the abandoned Karni Crossing in northern Gaza and set fire to a wooden platform connected to it, the army said.

“The IDF takes seriously any attempt to harm or deface the security fence and defense infrastructure,” the army said in a statement.

The Israel Defense Forces stressed that the two suspects did not get through the security fence and enter Israeli territory.

The incident came a day after three armed Palestinian men succeeded in doing just that, spending several hours in southern Israel before the army realized they had crossed the fence and captured them.

On Saturday, a group of four masked Palestinian men also cut through the security fence and entered Israeli territory. They tried to set fire to the heavy machinery being used to construct a new barrier around the Gaza Strip that is meant to counter the efforts by terrorist groups to tunnel into Israel. The men were quickly spotted and fled back into Gaza when IDF soldiers arrived minutes later, without causing significant damage to the engineering equipment.

The army has also been preparing for a massive protest in Gaza scheduled for Friday, during which thousands of demonstrators are expected to take part and possibly try to break through the security fence.

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