It began with an attempt by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to plant an improvised explosive device on the security fence separating Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and ended with a near full-scale conflagration on a scale not seen since the summer of 2014. Tensions for the time being have tapered off but the recent fighting demonstrates why the Israeli Army (IDF) maintains a constant state of readiness along its volatile borders.
On Sunday, security forces monitoring the Gaza border detected an object attached to the border fence. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be a bolt cutter of the type used by Palestinian rioters to breach the fence in weeks prior. A remote controlled robot was sent in to inspect and remove the object utilizing a long cord. During the course of removal, the bolt cutter exploded. Fortunately, no one was injured but the situation could have just as easily resulted in casualties.
PIJ terrorists who planted the IED were then spotted manning a nearby observation post. An Israeli Merkava IV tank fired at the OP instantly killing two PIJ operatives. A third was mortally wounded and died soon after. Islamic Jihad swore vengeance.
Two days later, southern Israeli border towns and communities came under intense indiscriminate rocket and mortar bombardment. A kindergarten was hit but fortunately, the children had not yet arrived. Over the course of 22 hours, Hamas and PIJ fired over 100 rockets and mortars, 25 of which were shot down by Israel’s anti-rocket defense system, Iron Dome. According to military sources, the system also succeeded in intercepting incoming mortar rounds, a first in the annals of warfare. There were no fatalities but there was some property damage and three IDF soldiers were wounded, two lightly and one moderately. A civilian was also lightly injured.