IDF admits accidental killing of Hamas operative

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) accidently shot and killed a Hamas member who was positioned on the Gaza border to prevent attempts to break through the border fence.

The IDF released a statement yesterday explaining the incident saying: “Two Palestinians arrived at the fence area this morning in the northern Gaza Strip, followed by a Hamas restraining operative, who is supposed to send them back to the Gaza Strip in such cases. An IDF force alerted to the spot identified the restraining operative as a terrorist and opened fire on him. The fire was apparently the result of a misunderstanding and it will be investigated.”

Hamas said in response: “We will not allow this shooting to go without a response, and Israel will pay for its actions. Israel intentionally fired at one of our members while he was carrying out his duties. We’ve launched an investigation into this crime.”

Yesterday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ashkelon, a city close to the Gaza border that has frequently been targeted by Hamas missiles. Netanyahu said: “I want there be calm, but we are not under the illusion that we can reach a political agreement with Hamas who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We are preparing for a campaign that is not only broad but also surprising. I am not going to hesitate to do what is necessary,” adding “election considerations” will not guide his policy decisions with regards to security.

Israel and Hamas appear to still be committed to a ceasefire arrangement. The Times of Israel reported that the head of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, Maher Tabaa, told the Saudi-owned Al-Quds Al-Arabi last weekend that Israel has increased the number of permits granted to Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip from 3,000 to 5,000, and lowered the minimum age for entering Israel from 30 to 25.

An Egyptian delegation is expected to enter Gaza soon to discuss the ceasefire agreement and also to restart reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah. The delegation is led by senior intelligence officials Ayman Badi’ and Ahmed Abdel Khaleq, who yesterday visited Ramallah and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Fatah officials. It is expected that they will also meet senior Israeli officials and military officers.