The Israeli army was busy last night, and in addition to launching an air strike on a Syria air field, following several weeks of increased tensions at the Israel-Gaza border, the IDF also struck a Hamas military compound in northern Gaza in response to the Sunday discovery of two explosive devices - allegedly placed near the border by a group of Palestinians who breached the fence, according to Arutz Sheva.
Israel fired at least seven artillery shells at three targets - though the IDF denied claims that they had come under fire as initial reports claimed.
“The IDF views with great severity the attempt led by the Hamas terrorist organization to turn the fence into a combat zone while attempting to damage and destroy the security and defense infrastructures,” said the IDF Spokesperson's unit in a statement.
The Gaza shelling came shortly after Israel conducted a strike on Syria's T-4 airfield near the country's third-largest city - firing on the facility from Lebanese airspace.
Tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have deteriorated in recent weeks - with tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators kicking off the "March of Return" protests on March 30, which quickly devolved into what the IDF described as a "violent riot" resulting in the reported deaths of 29 Palestinians so far.
Hamas's armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, announced that five of the deceased were members of their group, while the IDF said twelve of the dead belonged to the organization.
Shortly after the protests began, a video emerged depicting a young man who was shot in the back as he appeared to run away from Israeli positions near the Israel-Gaza border.
Young man appears to be shot in the back as he runs away from Israeli positions carrying a tyre (21 seconds in) pic.twitter.com/80JagMhYHz— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) March 31, 2018
When reached for comment, the IDF responded with the following statement:
The Hamas terrorist organization has published several videos, some of which only depict parts of incidents while others are edited or completely fabricated.
During yesterday’s violent riots and terrorist attacks, IDF troops faced gunshots, infiltration attempts, damage to security infrastructure, firebombs, rocks and rolling burning tires. The IDF operated in strict accordance with the rules of engagement, firing only when necessary and avoiding civilians strategically placed by Hamas in harm’s way. IDF operational activity prevented the Hamas terrorist organization’s objective to harm security infrastructure and attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty.
“Don’t take Hamas’s propaganda as fact. The IDF will continue operating in order to ensure Israeli sovereignty is not breached and to protect Israeli civilians. The participants of the violent riots are situating themselves in a dangerous area, thus putting themselves in harm’s way”
Gaza health officials say that in addition to the 29 protesters killed during clashes with the IDF, nearly 3,000 have reportedly been wounded.