Soldiers defuse explosives planted on Gaza fence by Palestinian rioters
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Soldiers defuse explosives planted on Gaza fence by Palestinian rioters

Army says IED similar to device that injured four troops on February 17, likely installed at same violent demonstration

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli soldiers observe Palestinian protesters during clashes near the border fence east of Gaza City on February 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)
Israeli soldiers observe Palestinian protesters during clashes near the border fence east of Gaza City on February 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

The Israeli army on Thursday “neutralized” an improvised explosive device that had been set up on the security fence around the southern Gaza Strip, similar to one that injured four soldiers nearly two weeks ago, the army said.

“Earlier this morning, IDF soldiers neutralized an IED on the security fence in southern Gaza. It was set up to harm IDF soldiers stationed near the fence,” an army spokesperson said.

The Israel Defense Forces would not specify how the bomb was disarmed, but Gaza residents told Palestinian media that it had been blown up in a controlled explosion by military sappers.

An army spokesperson said the IED was apparently installed during a violent demonstration along the border two weeks ago, as it was the same type as the one that wounded the four soldiers on February 17.

A military helicopter carrying IDF soldiers wounded in an explosion during a patrol along the Gaza border arrives at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center on February 17, 2018. (Screen capture; Twitter)

In that Saturday incident, four IDF soldiers were injured when they attempted to remove the IED, disguised as a flag, from the Gaza security fence near the city of Khan Younis.

As they pulled the device off the fence, it was apparently detonated remotely.

Two of the soldiers were seriously injured and two were moderately hurt. They were hit by shrapnel, sustaining wounds throughout their bodies, including their eyes, doctors said.

The army launched an investigation into the incident, specifically checking if the soldiers adhered to protocols for removing suspicious objects from the border fence.

In response to that attack, and to a rocket fired from Gaza that hit a home in southern Israel later that night, the IDF conducted a large series of strikes against 18 targets in the Strip, including on a tunnel in Gaza City, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in the Knesset last month.

Last week, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians warned Gazans that the army would respond more aggressively to riots along the security fence.

“We know that the violent clashes on the border are used as cover for terrorist activity, as happened last Saturday. And we will not allow such an event to happen again,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Palestinians in an Arabic video on social media.

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