An Israeli Army jeep drives near the border with the Gaza Strip August 20.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians in Gaza launched five cross-border mortar attacks on IDF units on Wednesday, raising tensions along the border region.
In the first such incident, Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar shell at an IDF unit carrying out operational work on the Gaza border fence on Wednesday morning.
An IDF tank carried out return fire at a Hamas position in the area, the military said.
There were no injuries among IDF soldiers.
Hours later, a second explosion occurred on the northern border of Gaza in the afternoon.
In a statement, the IDF said the unit stationed in the area "returned fire into Gaza using tanks" in response.
There were no injuries among security forces, the IDF noted. The IDF does not yet know who was behind "both cross border incidents."
In the third incident, a unit operating on the border with northern Gaza heard shots fired in their vicinity. It was later confirmed that a mortar shell was fired at the troops. An IDF tank in the area fired on a suspicious target within Gaza in response.
The firing continued on into the evening with two additional projectiles fired at IDF forces.
In response to the mortars, the region surrounding the Nahal Oz Gaza border community was declared a closed military zone.
The incidents marked the second straight day in which Palestinians in Gaza fired at IDF soldiers on the border.
The previous day's attack targeted soldiers on the border with northern Gaza. There were no injuries in that incident, which came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unannounced visit to the area
The prime minister said during his visit that the past two years since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge have been the most quiet since Hamas took over the coastal enclave in 2007.
Netanyahu, who went to the site of a large terrorist tunnel from Gaza into Israel that was discovered last month, was accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir and other top IDF officials. He received a briefing there on the security situation in the area.
Speaking to Golani soldiers in a grove of Eucalyptus trees, Netanyahu compared the situation today where IDF soldiers are defending the country to the situation 70 years ago during the Holocaust when “we were like a leaf driven in the wind, with no defense force, helpless. They massacred us, slaughtered us.”
Today, he said, “we have a country, an army, the ability to defend ourselves in this sector, in all sectors – near and far – and what motivates me is to secure the future of Israel in its land.”
The Jewish people, he said, has no future without its country.
Netanyahu praised the soldiers for their “spirit,” saying this is what makes the army what it is.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.