IDF Soldier Moderately Hurt in Attack Near Gaza Strip Fence

Rocket-propelled device fired at troops patrolling Israeli side of fence; wounded soldier in moderate condition.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded Thursday when his jeep was hit by an explosives device near the Gaza Strip security fence on Thursday.

The device was fired from the Palestinian side of the fence at a jeep patrolling on the Israeli side several dozen meters away.

The wounded soldier was hit in the head by shrapnel, and was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva. The other three soldiers in the jeep were not hurt.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, even though it is part of the cease-fire forged in talks in Cairo.

"We have launched an investigation and will deal with this incident according to our national interest to preserve calm," Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa said.

Palestinian residents in the area said IDF troops began firing machine guns after the explosion, and a military helicopter was seen landing in the vicinity.

The incident is the second in Gaza this week in which there have been Israeli casualties. On Monday, a soldier was moderately wounded and a civilian lightly hurt by Palestinian sniper fire along the Philadelphi Route on the borer with Egypt.

In the past two weeks there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of violent incidents in the Gaza Strip, including mortar and Qassam rocket fire on Gush Katif and army positions.

A significant part of the violence in the Gaza Strip in the past two weeks has been carried out by the Palestinian Resistance Committee (PRC), a local off-shoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement headed by Jamal Abu-Samhada. The group took responsibility for Monday's shooting along the Philadelphi Route.

The PRC, which was not invited by the Palestinian Authority to the Cairo cease-fire talks, said it was not bound by the pledge the other organizations took on themselves to stop attacks.

Military sources told Haaretz this week that international pressure will have to be brought to bear on Abbas to bring order to the Gaza Strip. The sources said the situation in recent days shows a loss of control by the PA security forces and that things could quickly deteriorate further.