IDF troops preparing for operation at Gaza border
IDF troops preparing for an operation at the Gaza border May 21, 2010. Photo by Eli Hershkovitz
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An Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded Friday by Palestinian sniper fire in the northwestern Negev, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The soldier, a tracker in the Givati Brigade, was transported to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva for treatment. He was shot while securing a road near Kibbutz Nirim, where two Palestinians from the Strip had infiltrated the border earlier in the day. Troops killed the two Palestinians, who apparently intended to carry out terror attacks in Israel.

The infiltrators successfully crossed the border and advanced several dozen meters into Israeli territory near Kibbutz Nirim before they encountered IDF troops from the Givati Brigade and the armored corps. The troops opened fire and killed the militants.

Islamic Jihad said the two militants were from its organization, CNN reported.

Before dawn on Friday, Israel Air Force fighter jets bombed targets across the Gaza Strip in what the IDF said was a response to the launching of a Qassam rocket earlier in the week.

The Israeli warplanes, according to the IDF Spokesman's Office, struck two tunnels in Gaza's south as well one in the north.

Gaza militants fired a Qassam rocket into Israel Wednesday, causing no casualties or damage. The rocket exploded in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

The IDF said the tunnel hit Thursday had been dug a kilometer away from Gaza's border with Israel, and was intended to be used as part of an infiltration as well as a possible terror attack against Israeli citizens and soldiers.

A spokesman said the strike came as "a response to the rocket fire on the Eshkol region on the previous day." He added that the IDF considered "the Hamas terror organization responsible for these activities in the Gaza Strip."

"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and soldiers and will continue to act severely against any group which attempts to terrorize the State of Israel," the spokesman said.

The last rocket attack occurred 10 days ago, when a Qassam exploded in an open area in the Ashkelon region of the Negev. The IAF responded by bombing two targets in southern Gaza.