Four IDF soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously, by a bomb that went off near them as they were patrolling the Gaza border fence. The incident occurred on Shabbos afternoon near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and was the most serious incident in terms of injuries since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
The bomb went off when soldiers approached the fence to pull down a Palestinian flag that had been planted on the fence. When they got near the fence, the bomb went off. The injured were taken by helicopter to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. Two were in serious condition Motzoei Shabbos, and two in moderate condition. Israel later hit several targets in Gaza, including a terror tunnel that Hamas was building in northern Gaza. Hamas fired missiles at Israel, with one hitting a house in a town near the Gaza border.
Earlier, Israeli tanks fired at targets in Gaza. The IDF spokesperson Motzoei Shabbos called the incident “a very serious one that has the potential to cause a great deal of unrest in the region.” Hamas has in recent weeks been attempting to turn the border fence area into a battlefront, the spokesperson said, holding riots very close to the fence. Regardless of who planted the flag and set off the bomb, the IDF saw Hamas as responsible for what happened in Gaza, he added.
President Reuven Rivlin said in response to the incident that the “prayers and thoughts of Israelis are with our injured soldiers. I have great respect for our soldiers, who do amazing work on the Gaza border with no rest. We will not allow the daily lives of Israelis to be interfered with by Gaza terrorists, and we will not remain silent when terror attacks are committed against our soldiers.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the incident was a “serious” one. “Israel will respond appropriately,” Netanyahu added.
Coordinator for Government Affairs in the Territories General Yoav Mordechai said Motzoei Shabbos that “Hamas is inciting the civilian population’s anger and suffering to recruit them for terrorist attacks. The flag incident Shabbos shows how fearful the terror groups are. We will not ignore the use by Hamas of residents to conduct these riots near the border. The IDF will respond in force. Gaza residents need to wake up.”