Violence flared in and around the Gaza Strip over the weekend, after four IDF soldiers were injured by an explosive device that had been planted by Palestinian Islamists near the Israeli security fence in the Khan Yunis area. The wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka medical center in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheba. Two of the soldiers sustained serious injuries, while the other two were moderately wounded. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the IDF responded by attacking 18 targets across the Gaza Strip belonging to the Islamist Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations.
During the Israeli retaliation, Gazan Islamists fired a rocket toward Israel’s southern communities, scoring a direct hit on a residential home in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council. Nevertheless, no injuries were reported. Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Schuster responded to the rocket attack, voicing optimism that the situation would calm-down and that the flare-up would not lead to war in the region. In an interview to Israel Radio, Schuster noted that school’s will continue to operate, and that life will continue as usual. In addition, the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council head voiced hope that the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip would be rebuilt and that the standard of living across the enclave would improve, so that the Palestinians living in Gaza would have to think twice before escalating the situation.
Reports revealed that senior Hamas officials who are now in Cairo informed Egyptian intelligence officials that Hamas did not want an escalation with Israel. The reports claimed that neither Hamas, nor the Islamic Jihad, were behind the explosion near the Israeli border fence –pointing instead ‘a blaming finger’ toward an organization from the Popular Resistance Committees that is backed by Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, as bearing responsibility for the attack.