IDF soldiers on Gaza border March 31, 2009 (AP)
IDF soldiers on the Gaza border, March 2009. Photo by AP
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A Palestinian was killed and four people were wounded following separate attacks by Israeli forces on suspected militants near the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday.

The first attack by an Israel Defense Forces tank and aircraft came as security forces identified Palestinian militants planning to launch missile from Gaza into Israel.

According to an army spokesperson, the forces identified hitting the target, with Palestinian sources reporting three men were wounded in the incident.

Later, a Gaza health official said that a Palestinian militant was killed and four people were wounded in Israeli air and artillery attacks in the Strip.

Al-Kidra said a second airstrike killed the militant and wounded another. In response, an army spokesperson confirmed the attack, saying that an IDF aircraft struck a squad preparing to launch projectiles into Israel.

The Palestinians had no information on the identities of the three men wounded in the first attack, so it was not clear whether they were militants or civilians.

The military said that strike targeted militants from Gaza's ruling Hamas group who were preparing to launch an antitank missile at Israeli soldiers patrolling the Israel-Gaza border. The second strike targeted an abandoned militant training site, Palestinian officials said.

On Monday, shots were fired at a restaurant located at the Yad Mordechai Junction, in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Immediately after the shooting, two mortar shells were fired, and though they were aimed at a town in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, they fell and exploded in Gaza.

No injuries or casualties were reported as a result of the incident, though vehicles parked in the area were damaged, as was a nearby building. At the site of the shooting, heavy .50mm caliber rounds were found.

Originally, police suspected the shooting was criminally related, police officers from the Lahish sector, under the command of Sderot station commander Yehiel Bohadana, determined that the shots were the result of gunfire from Gaza.

IDF forces responded with machine gun fire. As a result of the incident, surrounding towns and settlements were put on alert, although following an IDF sweep of the area, the alert was called off.

IDF sources estimate that the shots originated from a large machine gun, apparently fired at a tilt, and could have caused much more damage had they been fired directly. The night after the shooting, the air force attacked two Hamas targets in southern Gaza.