Palestinian and Israeli exchanges shake Gaza cease-fire
A roadside bomb hits Israeli forces, and Israel responds with airstrike.
A roadside bomb hit an Israeli army patrol along the Gaza border Tuesday, prompting Israeli counterstrikes. The exchanges threatened the cease-fire that has largely prevailed since Israel ended its three-week offensive Jan.
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The Los Angeles Times reports that one Israeli soldier was killed and another seriously wounded when an explosive device detonated along the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Israel responded with tank fire and helicopter strikes, reportedly killing a Palestinian farmer, according to the newspaper.
The clash, near the central Gaza border crossing of Kissufim, is the most serious threat so far to the separate cease-fires declared by Israel and Hamas.....
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Israeli officials maintain that they hold the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, responsible for the actions of all Palestinian resistance factions.
Gazan militants have remained quiet since Jan. 18, but the Israeli navy has regularly fired warning shots at Gazan fishermen, and there have been at least two incidents of Palestinians shot by soldiers across the border.
The Associated Press reports that it was not clear "if the bomb had been planted after the cease-fire took hold or whether it was an older device." Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Israel "cannot accept" the attack. Hamas, however, blamed the clash on Israel.
"We will respond, but there is no point in elaborating," Barak said in comments released by his office.
Israel closed its crossings into Gaza to humanitarian aid traffic after briefly opening them Tuesday morning. Gaza border official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials informed him the closure was due to the attack....
Although there was no claim of responsibility, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a "lull" in fighting.
"The Zionists are responsible for any aggression," he said.