The fatal shooting of a Hamas operative by Israeli troops along the Gaza border, appears to have been a result of a "misunderstanding," the military said in a statement Thursday.
IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip earlier on Thursday, prompting Hamas - who claim the man killed was their operative - to threaten Israel with retaliation.
“Two Palestinians approached the area of the border fence earlier in the morning in the northern Gaza Strip, behind them was a Hamas restraint operative, who was supposed to take the men back to Gaza,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit in a statement.
"An initial inquiry suggests that the IDF troops who arrived at the location misidentified the Hamas restraint operative to be an armed terrorist and fired as a result of this misunderstanding. The incident will be reviewed," it said.
"We will not allow this shooting to go without a response, and Israel will pay for its actions," the terror group said in a statement. "Israel intentionally fired at one of our members while he was carrying out his duties. We've launched an investigation into this crime."
The incident comes just as a senior Egyptian intelligence delegation was due to enter the Gaza Strip to discuss the agreement for calm with Israel, and also to restart reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah. These meetings were planned before today's shooting, but could now potentially be undermined by Hamas' response.
The Egyptian delegation will first meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Fatah officials in Ramallah, as well as possibly meeting with senior Israeli defense officials.
The killing of the gunman comes just as a temporary ceasefire agreement between the two sides has come into effect between Israel and Hamas, which was preceded by over 100 fires in southern Israel which broke out as a result of incendiary balloons launched from Gaza.
However, recent data from Israeli authorities show that the number of fires caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza have gone down in 2019, compared to 2018.