A Palestinian man was killed Saturday afternoon by IDF troops in northern Gaza, just south of the Karni goods crossing. The army said troops identified three Palestinians advancing towards the security fence and behaving in a suspicious manner. After the men ignored calls to stop and turn around, the soldiers fired toward their legs.
One of the men was killed and the army contacted the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza to send an ambulance to evacuate him. The two other Palestinians were lightly wounded and taken for questioning by Israeli forces.
The IDF has launched a probe into the incident and it remains unclear if the men were terror operatives or civilians trying to enter Israel to seek work. Palestinian sources said the men are unaffiliated with terror groups.
Earlier in the day five Palestinians infiltrated Israel near Kibbutz Be'eri. Searches took more than an hour and a helicopter was called in to assist efforts. The five were eventually caught and taken in for questioning.
The IDF Gaza battalion is closely monitoring the increase in infiltration attempts. Over the past three weeks, 10 gunmen have been killed while trying to plant bombs alongside the security fence. The explosive devices are primarily used against IDF border patrols but have also been detonated against border crossings.
"Our goal is to stop anyone who approaches the fence; sometimes it's civilians, sometimes it's terrorists and sometimes it's terrorists pretending to be civilians, so the mission is very complex," said a military official. "We have no intention of harming civilians, but it's often impossible to ascertain the intent of each individual infiltrator."
Due to the fact that the fence acts as a barrier for Gaza terrorists seeking to carry out attacks inside Israel, the security establishment tried to create an impenetrable fence after the disengagement using advanced technology developed for guarding borders. Two years after the last Israeli left Gaza, the project has not yet been completed.
'Civilians know approaching the border is dangerous'Some of the technological innovations haven't been authorized due to concerns that civilians unaffiliated with terror may be hurt. Other ideas have yet to receive the necessary budgeting.
The army says the desire to avoid civilian casualties often leads to successful infiltrations.
"We treat every person advancing towards the fence as a potential terror threat, because if we don't, we may find ourselves with the aftermath of a terror attack.
"Civilians have no business near the fence and it is very clear to them that approaching it is dangerous," said the military official.
Recently several similar incidents have led to massive nationwide manhunts after successful infiltrations. Two weeks ago central Israel came to a standstill after two Palestinians managed to cross the fence and reach the village of Tira in the Sharon region. The two were later confirmed to have been searching for work.
Two additional Palestinians were apprehended in the central city of Bat Yam after an Israeli citizen helped them leave Gaza with his private vehicle.
Ali Waked contributed to this report