Dichter Hints at Broadening IDF Action After Soldier Dies in Gaza

Sergeant Ben Kubany, 20, killed in action; Hamas militant killed by IDF tank fire in southern Gaza Strip.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Wednesday hinted at the need for an expansive Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported, hours after an IDF soldier was killed by Palestinian fire during a raid in southern Gaza.

"Either we keep the army in Gaza or we meet the explosives belt in Tel Aviv," Dichter was quoted as saying.

IDF Sergeant Ben Kubany, 20, from Hadera, was killed Wednesday morning by Palestinian fire during an operation in the Gaza Strip.

Kubany, from the Golani infantry brigade, was shot from close range while his unit was maneuvering between Palestinian homes on the outskirts of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

He was critically wounded, and succumbed to his injuries while being evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

In a separate incident during the operation, a Hamas militant was killed and at least six other Palestinians wounded by an IDF tank shell.

At least two of those wounded were civilians. The Hamas militant was identified as 20-year-old Hazem Asfor.

The IDF confirmed that ground troops were operating in Palestinian territory, near the Gaza security fence, and said troops fired on militants who had targeted them with an anti-tank rocket. None of the soldiers were wounded.

According to the IDF, the objective of the operation is to capture militants and seize weapons.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian civilian and militant were shot and killed during an IDF raid on the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian witnesses and doctors said.

Also Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said Egypt had found two smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip, arresting three Palestinians found inside one of the passages.