An explosive device planted at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip went off early Wednesday when an Israeli army bulldozer drove over it.
The Israeli army responded by firing shells at a Hamas military post near to the city of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. An IDF spokesperson reported that no soldiers were injured in the incident. Palestinian authorities reported that two people were slightly injured in the shelling.
The IDF instructed Israeli farmers working near the border to evacuate until the incident is fully investigated. So far, it is unclear when the explosive device was placed where it detonated.
A few hours earlier, just before dawn, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip toward the south of Israel, setting off alert sirens at kibbutz Nir Am and near the southern city of Sderot. The Israeli army said the rocket landed in Israeli territory close to the border fence. No casualties or damage were reported.
Israeli security forces have been on high alert on both the northern and the southern borders ever since the Huwara incidents in which Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered and Israeli settlers rioted, burning down 35 homes and vandalizing other houses, cars and shopfronts, traumatizing residents.
Hamas had praised the killing of the Yaniv brothers. After the settlers’ rampage, the armed Palestinian group pledged revenge. Hamas also threatened on Tuesday to avenge the killing of six Palestinians during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, targeting the assailant of the Yaniv brothers. At least one of the six has been a member of Hamas. At his funeral, his body was draped in the group’s flag.
The Israel-Gaza border has been relatively quiet in recent months, but there have been a few incidents since the beginning of 2023. For instance, 12 rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel on Feb. 1. In retaliation, the IDF fired at a Hamas weapons factory and a Hamas site used for stocking chemical materials used for the production of rockets. Israeli intelligence services estimated that the rocket fire was due to tensions within Israeli jails where Hamas operatives are imprisoned. Several Hamas prisoners were isolated after celebrating a deadly attack outside a synagogue in Jerusalem in January that killed seven people.