Escalation on Gaza border: IDF forces patrolling the northern Gaza Strip fence Saturday spotted and killed two terrorists approaching the security barrier near an Israeli kibbutz.
Armored corps soldiers opened fire and killed the two men. No injuries were reported among IDF troops.
The IDF has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. According to initial estimates, the two were planning to plant an explosive device near the fence.
Palestinian sources in Gaza reported tank fire in the central Gaza Strip and around agricultural fields east of Gaza City, near the border with Israel. The sources said gunships were spotted above the Strip and expressed concerns that this was merely the opening shot of a more extensive assault.
Later Saturday, a Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip exploded in an open area in southern Israel.
No injuries or damages were reported in the attack
Earlier Saturday more than 50 mortar shells were fired into Israel from Gaza, prompting the IDF to strike several targets across the Strip.
Another op in Gaza inevitable?
As tensions rise in the area, security establishment officials estimated that the deterrence achieved by the IDF following Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009 is slowly eroding, at least in respect to Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam.
According to one estimate, Israel will eventually have no choice but to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza similar to Cast Lead.
The latest mortar shell barrage came in response to an earlier IDF attack that killed two Hamas terrorists last week.
The cycle of attacks and counter-attacks has led to the recent escalation, which as opposed to previous cases directly involves Hamas, rather than other Palestinin factions.
The latest escalation in Gaza rocket attacks on southern Israel may lead to assassinations of Hamas military wing leaders, the IDF warned earlier Saturday, with army officials saying they cannot discount this possibility of targeting such top commanders.
Military officials made it clear that Saturday's barrage of some 50 mortar shells at the western Negev will not be ignored, adding that the army's aerial attacks Saturday afternoon were merely "the first bullets" in Israel's response.
Ron Ben-Yishai and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report
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