Deadly clashes stir tension on Gaza border

Deadly clashes stir tension on Gaza border

An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian militant were killed during an exchange of fire near the Gaza border early on June 1, sources on both sides said.

“An Israeli soldier ... was killed earlier this morning,” an army statement said. “A terrorist who was identified infiltrating Israel from the southern Gaza Strip opened fire at Israeli soldiers, who responded with fire. During the exchange of fire, the terrorist was killed,” it said. Sources in the radical Islamic Jihad group identified the Palestinian killed as member Ahmed Nasser, 20.

But while the movement’s military wing Al-Quds Brigades “congratulated the heroic operation,” it said the movement had “no connection to the action.” The Israeli soldier was named as Nitnel Moshiashvili, 21, of the southern city Ashkelon.

Following the incident, Israeli aircraft and tanks fired warning shots into Gaza. Palestinian sources said the shelling, east of Khan Yunis, resulted in the burning of a three-hectare wheat field. Late on June 1 morning, Palestinians fired two rockets from Gaza into Israel, a military spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse. There were no reports of casualties or damage. And on the same afternoon, three Palestinians were wounded in an Israeli air raid. The tense security situation in Gaza caused Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas government in Gaza, to cancel the public delivery of the weekly sermon following Friday prayers, his office said.

The Israeli military maintains an exclusion zone just inside the Gaza border that it has declared off-limits to Palestinians. Last week, an army officer and a soldier were wounded in an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants across the border.