An explosion was heard Saturday a few minutes after 4pm in the eastern portion of the Gaza Strip, in the vicinity of the area in which two explosive devices detonated Thursday morning. Saturday's incident marked the fifth time in three months a device was detonated near the Gaza fence.
Palestinian sources reported that a short time after the explosion the IDF fired several tank shells at a target east of Shuja'iyya, which may have been an observation post—conjecture later corroborated in an official IDF statement.
The IDF released a statement saying, "An explosive device detonated near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip. No forces were in the vicinity at the time of the explosion. No damage or casualties were caused to our forces."
Several explosives detonated near the Gaza border fence in the northern strip Thursday, intended to target security forces. No Israeli forces were harmed. In retaliation, the IDF used tank and aircraft fire to target Hamas terror targets east of Jabalia.
According to Palestinian sources, two other observation posts and an outpost in the northern strip were hit, and no Palestinian casualties were reported.
Between three and four charges were detonated in close proximity to an IDF force patrolling the region, which was nevertheless some distance away from the explosion. The military's vehicles were also unharmed.
The incident occurred near a point in the border where hundreds of Palestinians demonstrate every weekend, between the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja'iyya and the Nahal Oz kibbutz.
The region near the fence was declared a close military zone to expedite the dismantling of the devices, with the IDF now inspecting whether charges were once again placed under the cover of weekly protests.
4 soldiers wounded last month when device detonates near fence
In February, two soldiers were seriously wounded and two others moderately and lightly wounded when an explosive device was set off near an IDF patrol around the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, opposite the Ein HaShlosha kibbutz.
Emergency services flooded the scene and the wounded were airlifted to the Soroka University Medical Center in Be'er Sheva. The IDF retaliated with aircraft fire at several Gaza targets—including Hamas outposts.
Among those wounded are a Combat Engineering officer who was seriously wounded and a company commander from Golani's 13th Battalion who was lightly wounded.
The explosive device was affixed to a Palestinian flag and appeared to have been placed near the fence under the cover of Friday's demonstrations nearby. Golani and Combat Engineering forces were inspecting several suspicions locations in the vicinity when the explosion occurred.
An initial inquiry into the incident found that trackers scoured the area, after which Combat Engineering soldiers approached the flag, under cover of the Golani soldiers, at which point the device was set off.
The IDF noted a growing trend of escalation in the protests organized by Hamas near the border fence, which have included use of weapons such as frag grenades. The demonstrations were "unacceptable manipulations," as per the army.