Palestinian killed, two others wounded by IDF fire near Gaza border

Incident comes after IDF completes large scale drill in the south simulating a war with Gaza.

Palestinian killed, two others wounded by IDF fire near Gaza border , March 21, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)
An 18-year-old Palestinian man was killed and two others were moderately wounded after the IDF opened fire toward them in the southern Gaza Strip.
The three were near the border fence between Rafah and Israel on Tuesday night and were hit by tank fire after attempting to cross the border, the IDF said.
It is not clear why they were approaching the fence, but according to initial reports, the three appeared to IDF soldiers to be in the act of planting bombs.
Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza, identified the 18-year-old as Yousef Abu Azra. He and the two wounded, no names given, were evacuated to the Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, in moderate and critical condition with shrapnel wounds over their bodies, according to the spokesman.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli artillery fire on east Rafah, with government spokesman Tariq Rishmawi calling on the international community “to put an end to the continued and premeditated Israeli aggressions on our people in all places that they exist.”
The IDF said it was investigating the incident.
Two weeks ago, two bombs were neutralized in an off-limits area in the northern Gaza Strip. The charges were taken in for further examination. There were no casualties in the incident.
Hamas has recently built military outposts every dozen meters along the border with Israel and also carries out regular patrols, to both impose its control on the Strip by preventing Palestinians from crossing into Israel and to watch what is happening on the Israeli side.
The incident comes as the military finished its largest planned drill of the year, calling up some 2,000 reserve soldiers to simulate a war in Gaza. The surprise drill, which was carried out by the Southern Command’s reserve division, the Sinai Division, included four reserve brigades – two infantry and two armored brigades. The IDF’s Home Front Command also carried out a drill this past week in the South.
Despite tension between Israel and the Gaza Strip running high, the IDF said that both drills were planned in advance.
The last two months have seen gunfire targeting IDF troops along the border as well as seven rockets launched at Israel.
Most of the attacks have been claimed by small jihadist groups, often as a means of pressuring Hamas by raising tensions between the terrorist organization and Israel.
Hamas has cracked down on these small groups, recently carrying out a series of arrests among Salafi, jihadist, pro-Islamic State organizations. Nonetheless, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the Strip.