IDF attacks in Gaza after sniper shoots Israeli working on border fence

IDF responds with artillery fire toward five Hamas outposts in northern Gaza.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

An Israeli working on the border fence between Gaza and Israel was shot by a Palestinian sniper from the other side of the border on Wednesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported.

The injured Israeli was employed as a construction contractor by the Israeli Defense Ministry, a statement by the ministry read.

He was shot in his leg and was evacuated in light condition to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

An military official told Hebrew language media that there was no warning or indication of potential sniper fire from the Strip. “We started our day like we always do, carrying out routine work on the fence,” the unnamed official told Walla News. “The shooting surprised us.”

The IDF responded with artillery fire toward five Hamas outposts in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian reports. Three Hamas operatives were injured in the attack, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Hamas-affiliated media also reported shells fired by Israeli Navy ships along the maritime border.

An official from the IDF Gaza Division told Channel 12 that the IDF was still considering the proper response and the “other side will learn about the nature and scope of the Israeli response” when the time is right.

Farmers on both sides of the border have been asked to stay away from their fields until further notice, while nearby roads in Israel have been blocked by the IDF.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh HaAyin, in the first visit by the embattled PA leader to an Israeli government official in more than a decade.

In a statement on Twitter, Gantz wrote that the two men had discussed “the implementation of economic and civilian measures” aimed at supporting the ailing PA, as terror group Hamas grows in popularity among Palestinians.

The shooting incident on the Gaza border could be seen as an attempt by Hamas to signal both Israel and the Palestinian Authority that it will not tolerate what it described as a “stabbing in the back of the intifada currently taking place” in Judea and Samaria.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Israel was planning a series of economic concessions for the Gaza Strip, including increasing the number of working permits in Israeli territory offered to Palestinians from Gaza and allowing various materials necessary for rebuilding infrastructure, which could also be used for terrorist activity.

Terror factions in Gaza, however, have rejected the Israeli offer, claiming that the concessions are only “formal measures” that do not change the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, a joint military maneuver for all the terrorist factions in Gaza continued this week. During the maneuver, more than 60 rockets were fired at the sea and the takeover of IDF tanks and buildings was practiced.

The exercise is intended to convey a message to Israel regarding Hamas’ readiness for another confrontation, and its military arm emphasized that the organization is willing to pay any price to strike soldiers on the Gaza border.

Earlier this month, the Defense Ministry reported that it had completed construction of the security barrier between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which was dubbed one of the most extensive and complex operation in Israeli history, and took over three and a half years to complete. 65 kilometers long, the project cost about 3.5 billion shekels and includes an underground barrier for countering offensive tunnels, a 6-meter high wall, remotely-controlled weapon systems and cameras monitoring the area at any given time.

“The barrier, which is first and foremost an operational and technological feat, prevents Hamas from implementing one of the capabilities it has trying to develop, and positions a wall of steel, sensors and concrete, between [Hamas] and the residents of southern Israel,” Defense Minster Benney Gantz said upon completion of the project.

“With this wall, we provide southern Israel with a wall of security and just as important – with a sense of security that will allow this beautiful area to continue to prosper,” he added.

In August, IDF St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli was shot by a Palestinian terrorist from point-blank range during riots along the border. Following the incident and the public outcry that followed, the Defense Ministry said it would expand the barrier further and implement additional policies meant to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

_____

Baruch Yedid/TPS contributed to this report.