2 IDF Soldiers Hurt in Gaza Mortar Strike on Negev

Incident comes after IDF tank commander was lightly wounded in an exchange of fire with militants earlier this week.

Two Israel Defense Forces solders were lightly wounded on Tuesday after a mortar bomb launched by Gaza militants exploded in the Eshkol regional council in the western Negev.

IDF troops Gaza

While 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 most recent mortar launch came in the wake of two clashes between IDF troops and Gaza militants in the last month.

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

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

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.