Israeli tank shelling killed a Hamas fighter along the Gaza border yesterday as Israel responded to gunfire that wounded one of its soldiers, officials said.
Those incidents and another exchange of fire earlier in the day signalled a rise in tensions.
Mohamed al-Nabaheen, 24, was killed by tank fire while two other people were hurt, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said.
Hamas, the movement that rules Gaza, confirmed he was a member of its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
The Israeli army said it had targeted a Hamas observation post after a soldier was lightly wounded when a bullet struck his helmet.
In a statement, it said an initial investigation found “an assailant fired at troops” during a riot that included rock-hurling.
“A bullet struck the helmet of an IDF officer, lightly injuring him,” it added, referring to the Israel Defence Forces. A picture published by the army on social media showed the soldier’s damaged helmet.
Earlier yesterday, the army said shots were also fired at troops in a separate incident.
In response a tank targeted a Hamas military post without reports of any injuries.
An informal truce between Hamas and Israel had brought relative calm to the border in recent weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for re-election in April 9 polls. Mass protests and clashes erupted on the Gaza-Israel border in March last year. The weekly protests have been calling for Palestinian refugees in Gaza to be able to return to their former homes now inside Israel. Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.
At least 244 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March, the majority during protests and clashes. Others have died in air strikes or shelling. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during a botched special forces operation inside Gaza.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
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