(June 28, 2018 / JNS) Israeli security forces foiled an attempt by two Palestinian terrorists to breach the Israel-Gaza Strip border early on Thursday. An Israeli tank fired a warning shot in their direction killing one of them. The other fled, leaving a number of firebombs behind, said the Israel Defense Forces.
Thursday’s infiltration attempt followed at least two similar attempts on Wednesday afternoon.
In one, Israeli troops patrolling the southern part of the border opened fire on three Palestinians trying to infiltrate Israeli territory. Palestinian media reported that the three were wounded.
In another incident, IDF troops patrolling a different part of the fence opened fire at a Palestinian youth who was trying to breach the border.
The youth, believed to be 15, sustained serious injuries and was taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Upon his arrival in the emergency room, doctors found several grenades and explosives hidden in his clothes. The ER was shut down as police sappers were called in to neutralize the explosives.
Wednesday’s infiltration attempts followed a tense night in the Israeli communities near the border.
The IDF struck Hamas positions in Gaza early on Wednesday after terrorists in the enclave fired more than 12 projectiles over the border at Israeli communities.
The Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted three of the projectiles while the rest hit open areas, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
The salvo followed an Israeli strike in northeast Gaza that targeted a Hamas vehicle transporting a cell involved in the arson terrorism campaign that has been wreaking havoc in Israel for weeks.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Israeli strikes “required a quick response from the resistance. … This morning’s [rocket] fire retaliated over Zionist aggression and as part of the equation we set. Fire will be met with fire.”
The Popular Resistance Committees terrorist group threatened to exacerbate its rocket fire on Israel, saying “the Zionist enemy has to internalize the new reality on the ground. We will meet any fire with fire, even if it leads to escalation. We are not afraid to pay in blood. The Zionists enemy’s aggression will open up the gates of hell.”
Channel 10 News quoted senior defense officials as saying on Wednesday that despite the escalating dynamics on the border, both Israel and Hamas are still trying to contain the situation and prevent a full-fledged war.
One official said top IDF officers are trying to persuade the government to hold off on ordering any wide-ranging military campaign until the underground counter-tunnel barrier is complete. However, he said it is clear that unless tensions on the border wane, the next round of violence is inevitable.
Israel is currently building a 60-kilometer (37-mile) underground barrier some 250 meters (820 feet) from the Gaza border to counter Hamas’s grid of cross-border terror tunnels. The barrier has a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices to detect tunnels. Above ground will be a fence 6 meters (20 feet) high, similar to the one along the Israel-Egypt border.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has repeatedly said he believes the barrier could be completed by the end of the year.
The escalating kite terrorism campaign from Gaza, which has caused millions of dollars of damage to thousands of acres of forests and agricultural lands in Israel, has prompted the IDF to warn Hamas that every such incident will trigger a forceful Israeli response. Hamas said any IDF strike will trigger rocket fire on Israel’s south.
Although the IDF has threatened to begin launching surgical airstrikes on terrorist kite cells in Gaza, as it already does against cells that fire rockets at Israel, defense officials have been wary of implementing this policy out of concern that hitting kite-launchers—most of whom are teenagers—in this way would trigger another round of fighting in Gaza.
One defense official said that despite Hamas’s latest efforts, the terrorist group is still observing the “major rules of the game,” namely limiting its rocket fire to nighttimes, firing only at communities near the border and not at the larger cities in southern or central Israel, and aiming mostly at open areas.
Maor Barda of Sderot, 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from Gaza, told Israel Hayom that the south’s residents are “tired of feeling like this country’s backyard. Things have to change. All we want is to lead a normal life, without waking up from rocket fire every night.”
Sharon Shelly of Kibbutz Or Haner, 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Gaza, said, “This is a war, and it has to stop. We have to stop raising our children under fire. No other sovereign state in the world would allow something like this to go on as long as it has. Arson terrorism is part of this war, but the government is not taking it seriously.”
Also on Thursday, security forces arrested 13 suspected terrorists in several raids across Judea and Samaria. The suspects were turned over to the Shin Bet security agency for interrogation.