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IDF soldiers shot at two armed Palestinians, who were spotted approaching the north Gaza security fence Monday morning. According to the army, the troops opened fire after it became evident that they were armed and in close proximity to the fence.
Shortly after, PA officials informed Israel that one of the Palestinians was killed and two others were seriously wounded by IDF gunfire.
Each of them was carrying an RPG grenade launcher as well as weapons, the army said.
There were no injuries among IDF troops.
Hours earlier, IDF troops killed Hamas leader in Nablus, Amjad Hinawi, 34, during a gunbattle which erupted when soldiers attempted to arrest the fugitive.
During the night, numerous troops operated in Nablus against the city's terrorist infrastructure after intelligence information indicated that Hamas had been stepping up efforts to establish a bomb factory and store explosives.
After being spotted by troops, Hinawi opened fire. In the ensuing gunbattle, Hinawi was shot dead. A Kalashnikov rifle, a handgun and two magazines were found on his body.
According to information released by the army, Hinawi became involved in terror as far back as 1995, when he was involved in several shooting attacks.
In one incident, Hinawi and another terror operative - identified as Halil Sharif - opened fire at a bus traveling in the West Bank. As a result of the shooting, the driver of the bus lost control and in the subsequent crash, two passengers were wounded.
Amjad and Sharif then continued their rampage, wounding two yeshiva students at a nearby bus stop. David Boim, one of the students and a US citizen, later died of his wounds; his Israeli friend was seriously wounded.
Later that year, Hinawi was involved in another shooting attack, critically wounding Rabbi Uzi Nevo.
In recent months, the army said, Hinawi intensified his efforts to upgrade Hamas's infrastructure in Nablus and plotted attacks.
Elsewhere on Monday, troops arrested three Palestinian youths carrying an improvised bomb at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus.
A suspicious looking bag drew soldiersâ€™ attention and a search of it uncovered the bomb, Army Radio reported.
On Sunday night, the IDF stepped up its response to Palestinian mortar fire towards Israel originating in the northern Gaza Strip.
Late Sunday night, tanks lined up outside the northern Gaza border targeted the sources of the attacks.
According to IDF officials, the reprisals would continue into the early hours Monday morning, "because the Palestinians must understand that we will not ignore mortar fire."
The army began firing at the terror cells after a mortar shell landed near the security fence north of the Karni crossing Sunday night. No one was wounded and no damage was caused in the attack.
"Our response will be exaggerated and disproportional to the [mortar] fire," a senior IDF official said, according to Army Radio. If the Palestinian cells continue firing mortars, he added, Israel's response will even intensify.
Israel has gradually escalated its response to the attacks from Gaza since its withdrawal from the strip. During the first half of September, during Operation First Rain, Israel stationed a row of tanks bordering the Gaza Strip to discourage attacks. When Palestinian attacks continued, however, the army was given the go-ahead to respond to fire with fire.
IDF officials explained that the object of the current operation was to drive the terror cells away from the security fence, and thus render the mortar fire ineffective due to the limited range of the shells.
Since the army initiated this policy, the number of Kassam attacks that managed to reach Israeli territory was lowered to just 20 percent. The other 80%, officials said, fall short of their mark and land within Palestinian lands.
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