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Israeli army kills Gaza fighter while thwarting border breach

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GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli tank fire killed a Hamas fighter at a frontier outpost on Monday while soldiers chased down and caught two other Gazan militants who tried to cross into Israel, the military said.

During their pursuit of the two Palestinians attempting to infiltrate armed with “knives, wire cutters and combustible material”, the Israeli soldiers were shot at from inside the Gaza Strip, the military said in a statement.

“In response, an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) tank targeted an adjacent military observation post,” it said.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, said one of its members was killed when the outpost was hit.

The two Palestinians who tried to breach the border were being held by Israel, the military said. None of the soldiers was injured.

Later in the evening, sirens warning of rocket fire went off in southern Israel, sending residents running for shelter, though the military then said it was machine gun fire from Gaza that set off the alarms.

Hostilities over the Israel-Gaza frontier have soared since Palestinians began mass-demonstrations on March 30, which Israel deems to be cover for attempts to breach the border fence.

At least 116 Palestinians have been killed and thousands hurt by army gunfire in the protests, drawing foreign censure of Israel’s deadly tactics. Israel blames Hamas for provoking the violence, which the group denies.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Peter Graff)

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