Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian man after a firefight along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian hospital officials in the territory.
Sources in Hamas, which governs Gaza, have named the dead man as Tayseer Asmairi, a member of the group’s armed wing’s monitoring unit in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army said in a statement that a routine patrol on the Israeli side of the border came under attack on Wednesday from snipers in southern Gaza and that forces responded with fire from the ground and the air.
“In response to the firing at our forces who were east of the fence in the southern Gaza Strip, we carried out immediate attacks against the relevant targets,” the statement said shortly after Palestinian medics confirmed reports of a fatality in the same area.
The incident occurred in the Khan Younis area as Israeli workers were engaged in work on the border fence, Israeli media said.
The work has been stopped following what Israel described as the “gravest” incident since the Gaza war. The military instructed Gazan farmers to keep away from the border area “for their own safety”.
An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on any Israeli casualties in the clash.
Hamas blamed Israel for the deadly confrontation, saying that Israeli forces had busted the border fence.
“The Israeli occupation is responsible for the tension east of Khan Younis. They tried to cross the border, provoking a response from Hamas,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
The group said that while it wanted calm, it would respond to Israeli actions, listing Israel’s air strikes as one form of violation of the truce that ended the 50-day war in August.
On Friday, Israeli fighter jets bombed a Hamas base in Gaza, just hours after a rocket launched earlier that day from the territory.
Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas.
The fighting was ended by an Egyptian-brokered truce on August 26.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in seven weeks of fighting, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed.