Four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded on Saturday, two seriously, when an anti-tank missile fired from the Saja'iye area of Gaza hit an army jeep on patrol near Nahal Oz, along the border fence with northern Gaza.
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The two seriously wounded soldiers - one suffering a head wound, the other with shrapnel wounds all over his body - were taken by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, while the other two soldiers, one lightly wounded and the other suffering moderate wounds, were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
A senior IDF officer referred to yesterday's incident as "very severe - the second time in only a few days that there had been action [against IDF forces] in our territory." Within the army it is believed that the Islamic Jihad was behind the anti-tank missile, which was fired from a distance of 150 meters, penetrated the David-class jeep and rammed through the other side of the vehicle.
The IDF responded with tank fire, and later bombed four military targets in the Strip, two of them in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Gaza media outlets reported the four people had been killed and over 30 people wounded in those bombardments.
Gaza terrorists then fired at least 30 rockets into southern Israel. Color Red alerts were sounded in the Kerem Shalom, Sha'ar Hanegev and Ashdod areas. All the rockets hit open fields and caused no damage or casualties. The Iron Dome missile defense system also intercepted one rocket. Residents in towns up to seven kilometers from Gaza were warned to remain near protected areas.
The Home Front Comman and announced last night that school would be held as usual in the south. The Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza was closed.
Yesterday's incident came two days after an IDF soldier was wounded when a high-powered explosive device went off in a booby-trapped tunnel near an IDF force that was doing routine maintenance work on the border fence. As a result of the explosion an unmanned military jeep was blown into the air and completely destroyed. A soldier located dozens of feet from the explosion was very lightly wounded.
Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was conducting a situational evaluation with OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo last night. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that "the IDF responded to the incident and additional responses will be examined in the coming days. We will not tolerate escalation along the border."
The Home Front Comman and announced last night that school would be held as usual in the south.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of incidents of explosive devices being planted along the border fence, particularly in the Nirim area. Three weeks ago a military vehicle was damaged from one such explosion, which seriously wounded Capt. Ziv Shilon, who lost an arm. Three more soldiers were wounded by a charge laid along the border road last Tuesday, and their armored personnel carrier was badly damaged.
Following these incidents, Gaza Division Commander Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein began to operate west of the border fence to locate these explosive devices and blow them up in controlled explosions. IDF forces operated several times last week in the area of Kibbutz Nirim to find such explosives. On Thursday evening, a few hours after several explosive devices, some very powerful, had been blown up, terrorists set off the booby-trapped tunnel while soldiers were working to repair the fence that had been breached as a result of the earlier IDF activity.