Israeli Troops Kill Gaza Militant in Border Clash

Palestinian dead and IDF tank commander lightly wounded as army opens fire on militants apparently attempting to plant explosives; two Qassam rockets strike western Negev.

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Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant on the border with the Gaza Strip after an exchange of fire on Monday in which an IDF tank commander was also lightly wounded, the army said.

Later on Monday, two Qassam rockets fired from Gaza struck open areas in the western Negev region, causing no casualties or damage.

IDF soldiers stand on an APC near the Gaza border, on April 13, 2010. Credit: AP

According to the IDF, the dead Palestinian militant was Basem Da'ama, an Islamic Jihad field operative who had taken part in the exchange of fire in late March in which IDF soldiers Eliraz Peretz and Ilan Sviatkovsky were killed.

The exchange of fire began around 4 p.m. when soldiers from the IDF's Givati Brigade identified two Palestinian militants who were apparently planting an explosive device near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

"The force opened fire at the suspects, one militant was killed," a military spokesman said.

Palestinian militants returned fire towards IDF troops and a tank commander was wounded lightly by shrapnel.

Militants said they had fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the IDF force during the exchange of fire.

IDF engineers neutralized an explosive device found at the scene of the incident.

Palestinian residents near the town of Khan Younis said they heard gunfire in the area and said that one man was unaccounted for after the incident, although a body had not yet been recovered.

Violent incidents along the Israel-Gaza border have become less frequent since a three-week war in the Gaza Strip ended in January 2009. This was the second militant killed this month in clashes between militants and Israeli troops.