IDF tank
Photo: AP
IDF ground troops enter southern Gaza
Military states operation is limited, short-term and defensive, launched in response to several terror alerts; gunman shot after firing at troops

Israel Defense Forces ground troops entered southern Gaza Saturday morning, in search of terrorist infrastructure and wanted terrorist operatives. Although this entry constitutes an increase in troops in the region, the move has been defined by the IDF as a pinpoint military operation in a limited area.


According to military sources, IDF's Southern Command recently received several alerts about intended terror attacks being planned in southern Gaza and, as such, the operation is a defensive one.


Forces are searching for weapons caches and are also trying to locate and question wanted Palestinian operatives, sources from Southern Command said. If necessary, detainees will be transferred to Israel temporarily for questioning by the Shin Bet.


During the operation, troops shot and hit a Palestinian gunman who opened fire at them. His condition is unknown. None of the soldiers were injured in the incident.


According to IDF sources, the troops intend to operate in a similar, short-term fashion and in the same location as they did in a ground operation at the beginning of the week.  At that time, forces from the infantry, armored corps and engineer corps entered 2 kilometers (just over a mile) into southern Gaza for one day in search of weapons stores and wanted operatives.


At the end of the operation, several Palestinian detainees were transferred to Israel temporarily for questioning.


In recent months, the IDF has chosen to deal with security threats emanating from Gaza primarily using the Air Force, although the military has received authorization for more extensive ground operations, if they are deemed necessary.


Although recent IDF incursions into Gaza have been brief and shallow, sources from Southern Command said they constitute an increase of military activity in the area. They said they foresee similar operations continuing in the future.


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