Four Israeli soldiers were wounded on Saturday, two of them severely, after an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a Palestinian flag was placed on the Gaza border during demonstrations on Friday.
The Popular Resistance Committee, a militant offshoot of Fatah specialising in roadside bombs, praised the attack as a “heroic operation”.
Israel responded with tank fire and air strikes on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident as “severe” and promised to “respond appropriately”.
The strikes hit six Hamas targets, including an attack tunnel, two military compounds and a weapons manufacturing facility. A rocket fired from Gaza hit a safe room in Sha’ar HaNegev, southern Israel, causing damage but no injuries to the family inside. A second wave of Israeli airstrikes followed, hitting 10 further Hamas targets. Israel’s Defence Minister Lieberman confirmed today that a terrorist tunnel had been successful destroyed overnight.
Major General Eyal Zamir, Head of the Southern Command spoke at a military ceremony on Sunday, saying that “harming IDF soldiers constitutes a grave terror attack”. The New York Times described the weekend’s conflict as “some of the bloodiest fighting between Israel and Gaza since the seven-week war in the summer of 2014”.
Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP, Minister for the Middle East, said that the government is “gravely concerned by the increase in rocket fire since December 2017”. In response to a written question from Ian Paisley MP, he stated: “Rocket attacks threaten the daily lives of Israelis indiscriminately and make achieving peace more difficult”.