Sections of the security fence along the border with the Gaza Strip were damaged Tuesday by explosive devices set off by Palestinian rioters in the southern Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.
In a separate incident, a group of Palestinians broke through the Gaza security fence and approached an IDF post. Troops fired warning shots at the men, who ran back into Gaza, the army said in a statement.
Approximately 100 Palestinians clashed with troops along the border, according to the army. IDF units responded with tear gas and live fire. Two Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops, the Shehab news agency reported.
The violence came hours after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on his fellow ministers to approve a large-scale military campaign against the Hamas terror group in Gaza in light of the ongoing riots.
According to the defense minister’s assessment, a “serious blow” to Hamas would result in four to five years of calm along the Gaza border — akin to the quiet that persisted from the end of the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, until the start of the current round of clashes in late March — a few limited skirmishes notwithstanding.
On Monday an Israeli military aircraft bombed a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip after two Palestinian men set off an explosive device near the security fence earlier in the day, the army said at the time.
There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries in the airstrike.
Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots dubbed the “Great March of Return,” which have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.
Some 155 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures; Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.
The riots began as weekly events, but in recent weeks — due to both an internal Palestinian conflict and failed indirect negotiations with Israel — the clashes have become a daily event.
The security cabinet, which approves such military campaigns, met Sunday to discuss the possibility of an attack against Hamas, but ultimately decided to wait until the week’s end in order to give negotiators a chance to convince the group to abandon its current violent tactics.
An Egyptian military intelligence delegation reportedly arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to meet with Hamas officials in an attempt to calm the situation.
The cabinet is due to meet again on Wednesday.