IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz warned on Wednesday that the military would not permit incidents of Palestinian provocation along the Gaza border to go unanswered.
Gantz told a business conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday that “we are ready for any development that unfolds in the future.”
The army chief was commenting on the Palestinian sniper fire that left an IDF soldier seriously wounded near the Gaza frontier on Wednesday.
“This instability is a fixture of daily life for both the IDF and the State of Israel all along each border that we need to defend,” he said. “We have no intention of permitting these provocations to go unanswered.”
“We responded when it occurred, and we will act wisely and with force as intensely as necessary.”
Gantz said that soldiers who were on duty guarding maintenance work being done on the security fence ringing the Gaza boundary came under sniper fire, wounding one. The army quickly summoned air and ground reinforcements to retaliate against the source of the gunfire.
The soldier is from the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion, the IDF stated. His family has been notified.
In response to the fire, the IDF said that it carried out attacks on Hamas positions in Gaza, with both tank fire and an air strike. The incident occurred on the border between Israel and southern Gaza.
Farmers in the Eshkol Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council were instructed to halt any work within a kilometer of the Gaza border fence. The police later said that as a result of a security incident in the Gaza border area, several roads were closed in the Eshkol Regional Council. It was not immediately clear if the road closures were connected to the exchange of fire or a separate event.
Hamas media reported that a Hamas field commander, Tayseer Asmairi, was killed by the IDF fire and several people were injured.
Hamas warned Israel that it was "playing with fire," calling the incident "a grave escalation." The Hamas statement added that "The occupation is fully responsible for all of the consequences of the escalation. The resistance has a right to defend itself and its people."
"This is a severe incident - the second within a week - in which quiet has been callously violated. The IDF will continue to respond to every attempt to harm Israeli soldiers and civilians. Hamas is responsible for safeguarding the quiet in the Strip," the military said in a statement.