Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza late on Saturday, the military said, in an escalation of hostilities after earlier cross-border gunfire seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians, including two critically.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the Strip’s heavily fortified border earlier Saturday, where some tried to scale the border fence and others threw explosives towards Israeli troops, the IDF said.
“IDF troops responded with riot dispersal means, including when necessary live fire,” the military spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.
Cross-border fire from Gaza seriously wounded 21-year-old Israeli Border Police Staff Sergent Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who after was evacuated to Be'er Sheba's Soroka Medical Center, the military said.
The Be'er Yakov native was still in intensive care in a life-threatening condition.
There was no claim of responsibility for the Gaza gunfire.
Among the two Palestinians critically injured was a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, Gaza’s health ministry said. It described most of the other injuries as moderate, including gunshots to limbs, backs and abdomens.
In response to the soldier’s shooting, Israeli “fighter jets have struck four weapons storage and manufacturing sites belonging to” Hamas, the military said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Bracing for more hostilities, the IDF said it had sent additional forces to the Gaza border area. the Israeli media reported the military had increased deployment of its Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The violence follows an announcement by the government, of a resumption of Qatari aid to Gaza, a move seen as bolstering a fragile Egyptian-mediated truce to the May fighting.
First published: 06:50, 08.22.21