Israeli Soldier Seriously Wounded in Exchange of Fire on Gaza Border

Israeli tanks, aircraft return fire after snipers shoot at soldiers guarding construction work near the security fence with the southern Strip; Hamas commander killed in exchange of fire.

Reuters

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously wounded on Wednesday when Palestinian snipers opened fire at  troops guarding construction work at the security fence near the southern Gaza Strip. 

The IDF opened tank and aircraft fire in response to the sniper shots, killing the commander of the Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades' observation unit, Taysr Asmiri. Several others were wounded. The Israeli army sources say that the sniper was affiliated with Hamas.

Security incidents have intensified along the Gaza border in the last week. Last Friday night, the Israel Air Force attacked a Hamas installation in the Gaza Strip after a rocket was launched from the coastal enclave into Israel earlier that day.

That was the first Israeli attack in Gaza since the war between the Strip and Israel this summer, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israel military.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Wednesday that Israel "is not interested in an escalation - or in harming the efforts to rebuild the Strip" - but warned Hamas against "testing our patience with attempts at disturbing our lives." "We cannot casually accept a shooting incident such as the one that occurred today, in which an IDF soldier was hit," he said."That is why the immediate reaction on the ground was right. We see Hamas as responsible for what takes place in the Strip. We will not allow such shooting, and we will continue to react with with determination and force to any such future incident."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that Israel's "policy is clear – a strong and decisive response to any attempt to disturb the quiet in the south."

Hamas issued a statement on Saturday warning Israel against further attacks in the Gaza Strip, terming Friday's air strike a "stupid act," and a serious escalation and breach of the calm between the Palestinian factions and Israel.

Hamas called on the international community to act against Israel to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people.