An Israeli tank shelled Hamas positions in Gaza on Wednesday after shots were fired at an Israeli military engineering vehicle.
Hamas later fired at another vehicle, according to the army, which in response hit two more Hamas positions on the Gaza border fence.
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No casulaties were reported in the incidents.
“Shots were fired at an IDF engineering vehicle near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip earlier today, damaging the vehicle. No injuries were reported,” the army said in a statement.
This marks the first escalation on the Israeli-Gaza border in 2021. On December 29, Palestinian militant groups launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip in what they called their first-ever joint exercise, which Israeli media described as a show of force organized by Iran.
The exercise was announced on behalf of a joint command set up by the groups in 2018, and aimed to recreate different scenarios and test their preparedness for any future confrontation with Israel.
A few days earlier, the army said it hit a Hamas military post, a factory that produces rockets, and underground infrastructure, after rockets were fired from Gaza.
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Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner exchange deal were reported in December, which would allow humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave.