IDF, Gaza gunmen exchange fire across border

Earlier Thursday, two Palestinians wounded in march on Israeli border; Hamas disbands tunnel inspectors due to Egypt crackdown

Israeli soldiers patrol the Gaza border, January 3, 2014. (photo credit: David Buimovitch/Flash90/File)
Israeli soldiers patrol the Gaza border, January 3, 2014. (photo credit: David Buimovitch/Flash90/File)

Palestinian gunmen on Thursday fired mortar shells at IDF soldiers patrolling along the border with the Gaza Strip. The soldiers returned fire into Gaza.

There were no reports of casualties in the exchange.

According to the IDF, the incident, which took place along Gaza’s southern border, marks the latest in a series of cross-border altercations over the past week.

In another incident earlier on Thursday, two Palestinians were lightly injured by Israeli fire as they approached the border fence in northern Gaza, near the Erez crossing with Israel, Palestinian media reported.

The two were taking part in a demonstration that marched into the buffer zone between Gaza and the Israeli border. IDF troops ordered the crowd to stop, and opened fire at the legs of those who continued to approach the border fence.

The wounded were taken to a nearby Palestinian hospital, according to reports.

Earlier on Thursday morning, an explosion was reported inside Gaza, which the IDF said was apparently a mortar shell that may have accidentally fallen inside Palestinian territory.

And on Monday, IDF troops heard an explosion on the fence near Thursday’s demonstration. Two figures were identified planting the explosive device on the fence in an operation apparently targeting IDF patrols along the fence.

No IDF troops were hurt in any of the incidents.

Also Thursday, the Hamas government ruling the Gaza Strip announced it was disbanding its customs and inspection service overseeing the tunnels smuggling goods beneath the Egyptian border, Israel Radio reported.

A spokesman for the Hamas government said the tunnels had ceased to function due to an intensive months-long crackdown on the smuggling operations by Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, making the inspection service “superfluous.”

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