Israeli-Gaza border sees escalation of conflict

Updated: 2013-12-25 10:37


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Israeli-Gaza border sees escalation of conflict

Medical staff give treatment to a wounded Isreali worker who was shot on the Isreali-Gaza border, Dec 25, 2013.[Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM - An Israeli worker was shot dead Tuesday when fixing the damaged fence on the border with the Gaza Strip. This is another attack in a series of fire-exchange incidents over this area which may mark an escalation between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would react to it with force.

"This is a very sensitive incident and we will not let it go unanswered," Netanyahu said, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office. He added that "our policy until now has been to act beforehand and to respond in force. This is how we will act regarding this incident as well." Indeed, Israeli Air Force jets struck targets at the Gaza Strip following the shooting.

This incident joins other fire-exchange incidents in the Gaza Strip, which occurred in the past week.

On Monday, a Palestinian was injured in a troop fire when approaching the fence on the northern Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli military, this man was spotted placing an explosive device across the border.

Also on Monday, Palestinian militants fired mortar shells towards southern Israeli communities. No injuries or damages were reported.

Over the weekend, several clashes were noted between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, near the border fence of the Gaza Strip and Israel, killing at least one Palestinian and injuring six.

Those events join militant attacks perpetrated far from the strip. On Monday an Israeli policeman was stabbed near Ramallah. On Sunday, a bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, without any injuries in what police believes to be a militant attack.

Amid media's report for an escalation of conflict, Yoram Schweitzer, a terrorism expert from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told Xinhua, "this shooting from the Gaza strip is indeed exceptional and while it's true that there were several attacks across the border, but it's still too soon to call this an escalation."

"We don't know yet who is responsible for this attack, whether it was planned and carried out by an organization or an individual, " Schweitzer said, adding that "there still not enough attacks in the Gaza Strip that we can say this is an escalation or compare it to 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense, but it may very well be on the way."

Schweitzer further added that it would be wrong at this point to connect between the attacks along the Gaza Border and the sporadic attacks in Bat Yam and Ramallah, which he called " isolated incidents."

Sources in the military's southern command also joined this assessment. In an interview with the Walla! news website, a source in the command said that they believe there is no direct connection between the recent events in the Gaza Strip.

The source did add, however, that the military believes that Hamas is not enforcing the quiet across the border like it has in the months following Pillar of Defense and that individuals or smaller militant groups are using this to their advantage.

"These attacks may be caused by frustration due to the dire financial situation in the strip, which also increase the frustration and despair in the strip," the source told the Israeli website.

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