A senior Islamic Jihad member in central Gaza has been killed in clashes with troops from the elite Egoz unit Tuesday evening, army sources said. The operation has ended and the forces have left the Strip by now, the IDF said.
Earlier in the evening, IDF troops reportedly encircled the central Gaza home of a senior member of the al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing. The forces, who were aided by helicopters, exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen. No injuries were reported among IDF soldiers.
The Palestinians said that at least eight gunmen were wounded in the clashes. According to sources in Gaza, a month-old baby, Amira Abu-Akar, was killed during the operation. The army said it was looking into the report. Members of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, whose men also took part in the fighting, said that they lost contact with three of their men after they were wounded in battle.
IDF forces clash with Palestinians (Photo: AP)
The fate of the senior Islamic Jihad figure whose home was encircled by the IDF is still unclear, a member of the Jihad's al-Quds Brigades said, after earlier reports claimed that the suspect managed to flee the scene.
"For the time being, we cannot officially announce that he escaped," the source said. "It is possible that we lost contact with him, but we are taking into account the possibility that he may have been hurt or detained."
Earlier, sources in Gaza reported that several people, including the son of the Islamic Jihad member who was the target of the operation, were detained by the troops.
'Routine operation'The army said that a small force was operating in the area in an effort to thwart terror threats near the Gaza Strip fence. However, a short time later sources in Gaza said that clashes were intensifying. Eyewitnesses in the area reported that IDF tanks and other armored vehicles were also taking part in the operation.
Initially, the IDF said that shortly after the troops entered the Strip, around 8 pm, they clashed with Palestinian gunmen. IDF officials made it clear that the latest operation marked routine activity near the fence and that it was not a large-scale operation like "Warm Winter."
The officials also stressed that the IDF will continue to operate near the Gaza fence in order to push terror organizations back in the Strip and prevent them from planning attacks against Israeli targets near the fence or deeper inside Israel.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report