Israeli officer killed in clash in Gaza: army
JERUSALEM – An Israeli officer was killed in a clash in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, Israel’s military said in a
statement on Monday.
The statement provides little detail on the clash, only saying that “during an IDF’s (Israel Defense Forces’) Special Forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved.”
During the activity, an officer, identified only by his rank and first name initial, Lieutenant Colonel M., was killed. An additional officer was moderately injured, the statement said.
According to Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian group that controls Gaza, an Israeli force entered the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday night in a civilian vehicle and shot dead Noor Baraka, a 37-year-old senior commander of the
Militants opened fire at the car, which prompted massive Israeli airstrikes to help the force withdraw back into Israeli territory.
At least seven Palestinians were killed in the fire exchange, said Palestinian health officials and Hamas.
The Israeli army said that in an apparent retaliation, Gaza militants fired rockets towards southern Israel. By early morning hours, 17 launches were identified and three of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial
defense system. The other rockets fell in open fields, causing no injuries.
Tensions in the region were still high on Monday morning, with schools canceled. The railway line between the southern cities of Ashkelon and Sderot was closed “in accordance with the situation assessment,” the Israeli army
said, calling on the residents of the south “to follow the safety instructions provided.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to Paris and returned overnight, according to a statement from his office.
Netanyahu was in Paris to commemorate the end of World War I in ceremonies attended by dozens of world leaders. At a news conference in Paris on Sunday, he defended his decision to move toward an unofficial ceasefire with Hamas.
He also warned that if calm along the border will not be kept, “we will act with maximum power.”
The sudden burst of violence potentially shattered hopes for a long-term agreement between Israel and Hamas. Egyptian and the United Nations officials have been working to broker a deal that will restore calm in exchange for
easing the crippling blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007.