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Photo by: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
Violence erupts on Gaza border
By YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON
15/06/2012
Palestinian snipers open fire at farmers near Gaza fence, open fire at firefighters extinguishing blaze.
 
IDF troops exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night.

A Palestinian sniper in southern Gaza fired at a tractor traveling on a road in Kibbutz Nir Oz close to the border fence. The driver of the tractor was not injured, but the sniper’s fire shattered the vehicle’s windshield.

IDF soldiers arrived at the scene, evacuating the man to safety. according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office, Palestinians operating from within a school then detonated a bomb near the soldiers close to the border fence, but failed to wound any of them. The terrorists also fired a mortar shell at the force, who returned fire but failed to confirm a hit.

In a separate incident that occurred simultaneously, a fire broke out adjacent to the security fence in southern Gaza.

While Israeli civilian firefighters were extinguishing the blaze, terrorists opened fire at soldiers present at the scene.

The soldiers returned tank fire, confirming a hit. Two Palestinians were moderately wounded, according to Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

Earlier Thursday, a sniper in the southern Gaza Strip fired at a farmer working in a field near Kibbutz Nir Oz. The man was not hurt, having hidden himself behind a tractor until IDF soldiers arrived and evacuated him to safety. IDF soldiers returned fire. The tractor’s windshield was shattered by the sniper’s shots. A mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in the Eshkol Regional Council area, but caused no injuries.

Meanwhile, 50 international aid groups and United Nations agencies issued a joint appeal on Thursday calling on Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under a blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: ‘End the blockade now,’” the petition said.

Among the signatories were Amnesty International, Save the Children, the World Health Organization, Oxfam, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Israel has relaxed restrictions over the past two years, but insists on checking all goods entering the territory to prevent arms or weapons-making equipment from reaching Hamas.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor asked why the aid groups had not referred to the reason for the blockade, or any solution to the problem of rocket fire on Israel from Gaza that precipitated the blockade.

If this is not mentioned in the statement, he said, “then the call is meaningless.” Palmor said any “new ideas to deal with the cause of the problem would be welcomed if they were put forward in earnest.”
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