IDF soldiers reportedly opened fire on Sunday at Palestinian protesters in the northern Gaza Strip during a demonstration near the Erez border crossing with Israel.
Three men sustained gunshot wounds to the lower extremities, with one suffering a wound to the thigh, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
An Israeli military spokeswoman quoted by the news agency said that “40 or more Palestinians were hurling rocks and rioting violently” in the area and, consequently, Israeli forces “attempted to disperse the riot” and “fired toward the main instigators’ lower extremities.”
Soldiers also fired warning shots before the incident, Israel Radio reported.
The incident came amid spiraling tensions along the border, breaking several months of calm between Israel and Gaza following the summer’s 50-day war.
A series of other protests took place in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and Bani Suheila and Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip, on Sunday with no reports of gunfire in any of the other demonstrations.
Last Friday IDF troops shot at two Palestinian men attempting to cross the border fence into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, wounding one.
One of the men managed to get over the fence, and was shot in his leg after he ignored soldiers’ demands to stop. He was lightly to moderately injured.
The other man fled back into the Gaza Strip.
Earlier last week an IDF soldier was seriously wounded when he was hit by a sniper while on patrol near the border. Palestinian sources said that a heavy exchange of fire ensued, with IDF tanks shelling striking a target east of Khan Younis. Jets also fired on Gaza targets, and Palestinians said that the commander of Hamas’s surveillance unit in the area, Tayseer al-Ismary, was killed in the exchange with Israeli troops.
Following last week’s incident, Israeli media reported the IDF had deployed two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in southern Israel. Batteries were placed near the southern cities of Beersheba and Netivot, both targets of heavy rocket fire during the summer war, according to several reports.
On December 19 IDF warplanes hit targets in Gaza, including a Hamas training ground, following a rocket attack on southern Israel a day earlier. The Kassam rocket fell near an Israeli community in the Eshkol region near the Gaza Strip, causing no casualties or damage.