AP NEWS

Israeli army kills Palestinian gunman who crossed Gaza fence

August 1, 2019 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian man who had crossed the Gaza perimeter fence and fired on soldiers, the military said Thursday.

Three soldiers were wounded in the overnight shootout with the gunman. In response, a tank “targeted a Hamas military post in Gaza,” the Israeli army said in a statement. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an army spokesman, told reporters that the military believes the gunman acted alone.

There was no official statement from Hamas.

Palestinians identified the slain gunman as Hani Abu Salah, a member of the armed wing of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. Mosques in the southern Gaza Strip announced Abu Salah’s death and called on Gazans to attend his funeral.

Abu Salah was the third Palestinian killed along the volatile border since Israel and Hamas reached an informal cease-fire in May to halt the worst round of fighting since a 2014 war.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the militant group seized control of the coastal enclave from forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007.

At her home in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Abu Salah’s mother told reporters that her “heart is burning” and said she was proud of her son.

Last year Abu Salah’s brother, Fadi, was killed during weekly protests staged by Hamas along the Israel-Gaza frontier. Over 200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the marches, and one Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper. Israel said it opened fire in response to attacks during the protests or to prevent Palestinians from breaking through the fence. The Palestinians accused Israel of using excessive force.

Thursday’s cross-border incident took place as the White House’s chief Mideast envoy, Jared Kushner, is making a tour of the region in a bid to advance the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kushner met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in Jerusalem following a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. The Palestinians have cut off all contacts with the White House and pre-emptively rejected the peace plan, accusing the administration of being unfairly biased toward Israel.

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Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.