Following is a summary of events near the Gaza border earlier today (Wednesday, 24 December) according to media reports:
Today's events began with Palestinian sniper fire, including machine gun fire, on IDF troops protecting construction workers on the Israeli side of the border with the southern Gaza Strip. The laborers were working on the border fence near Kibbutz Kissufim.
As a result of the attack, an IDF combat soldier from the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion suffered a severe chest injury and was evacuated to hospital for further medical treatment. The soldier's family has been notified.
In response to the unprovoked attack, the IDF targeted Hamas positions in Gaza with tank fire and an airstrike. According to Palestinian sources, the commander of the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades' observation unit was killed in the exchange of fire.
This morning's attack follows the launch of a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel on Friday (19 December). In response to that attack, the Israel Air Force struck a Hamas installation in the Gaza Strip, the first Israeli retaliatory strike since the summer's conflict with Hamas.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: "This attack, the second this week, is a lethal violation of the relative quiet along the Gaza border and is a blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty. The IDF will continue to use all necessary means in order to maintain the safety of the citizens of southern Israel and will not hesitate to respond to any attempt to harm IDF soldiers."