Explosive Device Detonates on Gaza Border; Israel Strikes Hamas Outpost in Response

Army says no casualties or damage in incident ■ Gaza reports: Israeli forces fire three shells, one lightly wounded ■ Fourth border incident in month

Israeli forces near the border with Gaza, March 15, 2018.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

An explosive device detonated on the border with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said on Saturday. The army said there were no reports of casualties or damage. Israel said it struck a Hamas position in response.

This is the fourth incident in the last four weeks in which explosive devices targeting Israeli forces are being detonated near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.

According to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces, a roadside bomb exploded near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The military said it responded with tank fire, destroying an outpost belonging to Hamas. Media outlets based in Gaza said that Israeli forces fired three shells at a Hamas post east of Gaza City. One man was lightly wounded and taken to Al-Shifa Hospital, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza stated.

On Thursday, two roadside bombs were detonated against Israeli soldiers patrolling near the Gaza border. When the soldiers arrived at the border in patrol vehicles, two explosive devices went off. They had been placed 100 meters into Gaza. The army said it suspects that a rocket-propelled grenade was also fired at the soldiers.

Following Thursday's incident, the IDF responded with tank fire and carried out an airstrike targeting five Hamas observation posts.

The most serious incident took place in February, when a device exploded near Israeli troops at the fence bordering the southern Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded, one was moderately wounded and another was lightly wounded.

The military said that the four soldiers went over to examine a Palestinian flag that had been hung on the fence during clashes that took place the day before, and a bomb hidden beside the flag exploded.

In response to the bomb incident, the army attacked the Gaza Strip. "This is a serious incident that could undermine stability in the region," it said.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt during a visit to the Strip. The Palestinian Authority initially blamed Hamas for the explosion, which it said targeted Hamdallah's convoy.

Later Tuesday, however, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke with Hamdallah, and the two blamed "Israel and its collaborators" for the attempt. The Palestinian leaders agreed that General Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of Gaza's Interior Ministry, will lead the investigation into the incident.