Israel shells Hamas outposts in Gaza
Three Palestinians have been wounded in retaliatory strikes by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), ordered after an Israeli civilian, who was fixing the newly-completed border fence, was injured by fire from Gaza.
An employee of a civilian firm hired by the defense ministry for the maintenance of the barrier separating Israel and Gaza was wounded by bullets coming from the Palestinian territory.
The man was rushed to hospital in the nearby town of Ashkelon, with medics describing his injuries as light.
Neither Hamas, which controls Gaza, nor any other armed group has so far claimed responsibility for the shooting. But the IDF described the incident as a deliberate attack, and ordered retaliatory strikes.
Israeli tanks subsequently targeted several Hamas outposts near Gaza City, Palestinian media reported.
The shelling wounded three people in Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said, without providing further details. Local media outlets reported that the victims were farmers.
The construction of the 65-kilometer-long security fence, stretching the entire border between Israel and Gaza, was officially completed earlier in December after three years of work. The massive project cost the Jewish state an estimated 3.5 billion shekels ($1.11 billion).
The border has been relatively calm since the 11-day flare-up between IDF and Hamas in May, which resulted in the deaths of more than 250 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel.
The current outbreak of violence occurred a day after Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority which runs part of the West Bank, held his first talks with a senior Israeli official inside Israel in more than a decade.
Reacting to the development, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that by visiting the home of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Abbas was “deepening Palestinian political divisions” and encouraging accommodation with “the occupation,” referring to Israel.