IDF troops open fire at Gazans breaching border fence

Army says Palestinians were seeking to damage ‘security infrastructure’ in Israel, fled back into Strip after being shot at

Surveillance footage showing 2 Palestinian men attempting to breach the border fence and enter Israeli territory on June 2, 2018. (IDF)
Surveillance footage showing 2 Palestinian men attempting to breach the border fence and enter Israeli territory on June 2, 2018. (IDF)

Israeli troops opened fire on two Palestinians spotted crossing into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon, the army said, amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops patrolling the area saw the “terrorist cell” as it breached the border along the southern portion of the border fence. Soldiers opened fire at the Palestinians, who fled back into Gaza.

The army said the Palestinians were seeking to damage “security infrastructure” in Israel.

There were no reports of injuries.

Elsewhere along the border Saturday, incendiary kites flown from Gaza sparked fires near two Israeli communities adjacent to the Palestinian territory. Firefighters were working to put out the burning fields encroaching on Kibbutz Nir Am and Kibbutz Kissufim.

On Friday, the army said “thousands of rioters” participated in clashes along the security fence, “burning tires adjacent to the security fence and attempting to damage security infrastructure.”

The army said that an IDF vehicle came under fire during the riots and that a Palestinian who breached the border fence in northern Gaza planted a grenade that exploded. No Israeli soldiers were injured.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said a volunteer medic was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during the clashes that injured another 100 protesters.

Palestinians identified the dead woman as Razan al-Najjar, 21. She was shot near Khan Younis in the south of the territory, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, bringing the toll of Gazans killed by Israeli fire since the end of March to 123, according to a count by the Hamas-run ministry.

Hamas and fellow terror organization Islamic Jihad have acknowledged that dozens of those killed were their members.

According to Qudra, Najjar was a volunteer with the ministry, wearing the white uniform of a medic when she was shot in the chest attending to a wounded protester near the fence.

Israel says it is facing weekly attacks by violent protesters at the border. It says the riots are orchestrated by Hamas, which rules Gaza, and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

Volunteer paramedic Razan al-Najjar, 21, center, is seen before reportedly being shot in her chest by Israeli troops during a protest east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, June 1, 2018 (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

In response to reports of Najjar’s death, the IDF said soldiers at the scene were using riot dispersal means against the protesters and live fire in accordance with army regulations, but would investigate the incident.

It added that cases such as Najjar’s, “in which civilians are allegedly killed by IDF fire, are thoroughly examined by the relevant levels of command and are checked by the General Staff Fact Finding Assessment Mechanism.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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