gaza - Eliyahu Hershkovitz - December 11 2010
IDF soldier wounded in a shootout with Palestinian militants on the Israel-Gaza border is evacuated to hospital, December 11, 2010. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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After a Saturday evening clash on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip in which two Palestinian militants were killed and an Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously wounded, a preliminary investigation by the army concluded that the IDF soldier was wounded by friendly fire.

This contradicted initial reports by IDF sources, which claimed on Saturday that as IDF paratroopers approached the fence, Palestinian militants opened fire and wounded one of the soldiers.

On Saturday, IDF sources reported that soldiers from an IDF observation post saw two armed Palestinians crawling toward the Gaza border fence, began to shoot at them and wounded the two.

A paratrooper unit then proceeded to cross the fence into Gaza and engaged the two Palestinians, killing them. One of these paratroopers was wounded as a result of being hit by gunfire. The IDF reported that the soldiers were also attacked with mortar fire and sniper fire.

The wounded IDF soldier was transported to a hospital by helicopter.

IDF sources stressed that the finding that "the soldier was hit by friendly fire arose from a preliminary investigation, and that the investigation will continue in the days ahead."

The reason given for the friendly fire was the poor visibility in the area, caused by poor weather conditions.

In the past week, there has been an increase in the number of incidents on the border.

On Thursday morning, the Israeli Air Force attacked three Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a mortar attack from Gaza in which the security coordinator of a town in the Eshkol Regional Council was lightly wounded.