St.-Sgt. Netanel Moshiashvili was killed on Friday morning in a clash with a Palestinian gunman who had infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said the gunman crossed into Israel at 5 a.m. after cutting through the security fence using “sophisticated means.”

A nearby reconnaissance unit detected the shooter and a unit from the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion was immediately sent to the scene.

The incident came a week after a Palestinian sniper in the same central-Gaza area shot and wounded two soldiers.

While fears were that the terrorist had planned to enter a nearby kibbutz, either Nirim or Ein Hashlosha, the IDF was also considering the possibility that the terrorist’s objective was to kidnap a soldier.

The Southern Command was investigating how the gunman reached the fence without being detected.

The small unit from Battalion 12 engaged the terrorist. Moshiashvili, 21, from Ashkelon, was killed. The troops returned fire, killing the gunman who was later identified as Ahmed Nassir.

“Due to the fast response by the force, a larger terrorist attack in the area was thwarted,” Col. Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, told reporters. “We are in a state of constant fighting and our mission is to protect the residents, and we do that with resolve and determination.”

Sources in Gaza told Reuters that Nassir was affiliated with Islamic Jihad but the group denied responsibility, suggesting he might have been acting alone.

Several hours after the gunfight, the Israel Air Force fired missiles at a number of men spotted in southern Gaza preparing to launch rockets into Israel. Palestinians said three people were wounded in the strike and the IDF noted that more than 270 rockets have been fired into Israel since the beginning of the year.

The IDF was not expected to escalate its response to the infiltration and will likely try to contain the incident to prevent further hostilities with terrorists factions in Gaza.

Moshiashvili’s funeral was held in Ashkelon on Friday.

Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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