Israeli troops opened fire at four Palestinians who breached the southern Gaza security fence and set fire to an empty Israel Defense Forces post on Monday, killing one of them, the army said.

According to the military, the four Palestinian youths broke through the fence east of Rafah in the southern Strip and set fire to a sniper’s nest near the border.

“IDF troops spotted the infiltration and monitored the incident. The troops chased after the terrorists, during which time they opened fire at them,” the army said.

“As a result of the gunfire, one terrorist was killed, another was critically injured and was taken for medical treatment, and one was handed over to security forces for interrogation,” the IDF said in a statement.

The critically wounded Palestinian suspect was evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in an IDF helicopter, the army said.

A hospital spokesperson said his condition had been improved to moderate and that he was undergoing treatment in the trauma center.

According to Palestinian media, one of the suspects made it back to the Gaza Strip. He was taken to a nearby hospital with a bullet wound in his shoulder, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said.

During the chase after the suspects, the soldiers reported hearing gunshots fired at them, the army said.

The Shehab news outlet, which is affiliated with the Hamas terror group, reported that the shots were fired by members of Palestinian terrorist groups in the area.

No Israeli injuries were reported.

The IDF accused Hamas, which rules Gaza, of being behind the border breach and others that have occurred recently, in which Palestinians have set fire to Israeli military positions and the equipment being used to construct an underground barrier around the Strip to counter attack tunnels.

“Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in the Strip and that emanates from it, and it is behind the attempted border breaches and the damage to security infrastructure. The IDF takes these incidents seriously and will continue to respond to them harshly and aggressively,” the military said.

Israeli soldiers carry away an injured Palestinian who the army says tried to breach the border fence east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip on June 27, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The security fence east of Rafah has seen a number of similar cases in recent weeks.

Last Thursday, an IDF tank fired at two Palestinian teenagers whom the army said were trying to infiltrate into Israel from Rafah. One of the teens, Abdel Fattah Abu Azoum, 17, was wounded and died of his head injury several hours later. The other Palestinian suspect was also reportedly injured by the tank fire.

The security situation along the restive Gaza border has been especially tense in recent weeks, owing to a number of significant clashes between the Israeli military and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, notably Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave.

In recent weeks, the military has adopted a policy of targeting Hamas positions in response to repeated incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza in an effort to force the group, which rules the coastal enclave, to stop launching the arson devices and to force others in the Strip to abandon the tactic as well.

However, Hamas has maintained that the near-constant airborne arson attacks, which have burned thousands of acres of Israeli land, do not warrant retaliatory strikes by Israel and therefore accuses Jerusalem of violating the tacit ceasefire between the two sides.

Palestinians prepare a kite with flammable materials that they will fly into southern Israel from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on June 22, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

“Bombings will be answered with bombings,” Hamas said after its rocket attacks on Wednesday.

The Israeli military has also carried out multiple warning strikes in recent weeks at groups of Gazans preparing to launch incendiary devices toward Israel. The army has said repeatedly that it will act to prevent the launch of the airborne incendiary devices and explosives.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have launched countless kites, balloons and inflated latex condoms bearing flammable materials, and occasionally explosives, into Israeli territory, sparking near-daily fires that have burned thousands of acres of farmland, parks and forests.


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Gazans said shot in attempted border breach in southern Strip