IDF troops shot and killed three Palestinians trying to sabotage the border fence and infiltrate Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said on Sunday.
According to a statement by the IDF, four men “arrived at the perimeter fence to infiltrate into Israeli territory and attempt to carry out hostile terror activity.” The men were under surveillance by troops who opened fire on them when they acted suspiciously next to the fence.
One of the terrorists was found to have a camera, an ax, a jacket, an oxygen mask and gloves. Two bottles of gasoline were found next to the other killed Palestinian.
Palestinian Health Ministry identified the fatalities as 23-year-old Baha Abdul Rahman Qdeih and 20-year-old Muhammad Khaled Abu Rideh. The third died of serious injuries after being evacuated to hospital. He wasn’t identified.
Early Sunday morning, the IDF struck a Hamas outpost in the northern Gaza Strip near the border fence that the military said was used as a location from which terrorists launched incendiary kites and other objects in an attempt to burn Israeli fields.
“We will continue to act against terror attacks above and below ground,” the IDF said in a statement. “The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity coming from the Gaza Strip.”
The military also stressed there was no connection between the strike and an earlier explosion in the central Gaza Strip city of Deir al-Balah Saturday evening that killed six Hamas members.
On Friday, riots broke out at five locations along the Gaza-Israel security fence for the sixth consecutive week of demonstrations
called “The March of Great Return” by Palestinian organizers. According to the IDF, protesters burned tires, threw stones and flew kites with flammable material with the aim of starting fires in Israeli territory.
Prior to the demonstrations, the army’s Arabic Spokesperson warned Gazans against using the incendiary kites, posting on Twitter that the IDF is taking the issue seriously.
“The arson phenomenon is not hidden from our eyes, and we are taking it very seriously. Attack kites are not a kids' game, and we don’t see it that way,” Maj. Avichai Adraee posted, warning Gazans that "Hamas is using you, and is pushing you toward the cycle of terrorism."
The heads of security for the Israeli communities along the border of the Gaza Strip warned residents not to touch any kites that have landed in Israeli territory, stating that the kites could be booby-trapped.
The IDF accuses Hamas of using the protests
as cover to carry out attacks against IDF troops.
Gazans have ramped up their use of these kite bombs in recent weeks as a way to breach the border and cause damage within Israeli territory.
Israeli farmers in Gaza border communities have asked the Tax Authority for compensation after an approximate 800 dunams (200 acres) of fields were destroyed in fires sparked by these kites.
"When the courts in Jerusalem are discussing petitions from left-wing organizations to tie the hands of the soldiers standing in front of the Gaza rioters who want to break through the fence, the arson continues in the fields of farmers," said Shai Hajaj, head of the Merhavim Regional council.
Hajaj continued: "It is necessary to remind both the judges and advocates for Palestinian rights that stone-throwing and the burning of fields is violence, which has already caused severe economic damage and threatens human life. Palestinian rioters burning fields with kites is no longer limited to the Friday 'right-of-return' demonstrations, but rather an everyday event. We demand that the IDF put a stop to this violence immediately."
Member of Knesset Haim Jelin, from the political party Yesh Atid, weighed in on the situation after the attack on Wednesday: "It is forbidden to downplay the most recent kite terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip, which have ignited fields in three separate attacks. The person who downplays this now will find himself with more threats in Israeli territory."
While the army does not have any response to these rudimentary kites, during the clashes on Friday an IDF drone was reported to have downed a kite by cutting its strings. Jonathan Weber Rosen contributed to this report.
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