Israel Defense Forces' tanks fired at and killed an armed Palestinian approaching the Gaza Strip's border with Israel on Tuesday, as three mortar bombs exploded in Israeli soil.
The incident took place after an IDF force spotted an armed Palestinian near the Erez crossing at the Strip's north, later directing tank fire to the spot. No injuries were reported from among the soldiers.
Later Tuesday three mortar bombs launched by Gaza militants reportedly exploded on Israeli soil, with Army Radio reporting two hitting the Eshkol regional council and one hitting the Hof Ashkelon regional council.
Pressure has been mounting along Israel's border with the coastal enclave in recent weeks, as Gaza militants and Israeli forces had traded blows in what some fear are signs of a large scale military escalation.
On Saturday, IDF planes struck a vehicle travelling at the south of the Gaza Strip, killing three Hamas operatives, one of them a top commander in Hamas' military wing.
An IDF Spokesperson stated that the three men were members of a terrorist cell that was "planning to kidnap Israelis over the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover" in Israel and in the Sinai Peninsula, a popular spring tourist destination for Israelis.
The Palestinian Ma'an news agency identified the three as Isma’il Labad and his brother Abdullah from Ash-Shati' refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, and military commander Muhammad Ad-Dayah from the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.
Ad-Dayah, 33, is considered to be a top Hamas military official. As a child he participated in the first intifada, later serving as the bodyguard of former Hamas chief Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Ad-Dayah also lost one of his eyes during an attempted mortar attack on a nearby settlement.
Hamas vowed vengeance against Israel in a statement Saturday, describing the strike as a crime and "serious escalation" of the recent violence, and vowed that Israel would "bear all the consequences." The militant group also called on the U.S. to stop the flow of financial aid to Israel.
Prior to the attack, Palestinian militants have fired rocket salvos into Israel, reaching as far as the major southern city Be'er Sheva, and Israel has carried out a series of air strikes.
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