Gaza front heats up with ambushes, airstirkes
Three IDF soldiers, 12 Palestinians killed in day of clashes

IAF helicopter firing missile on Gaza (IDF)

There was a flurry of gun battles and air strikes all across the Gaza front on Wednesday, with the sudden escalation claiming the lives of 3 IDF soldiers and as many as 12 Palestinians.

Despite the sharp spike in fighting, it is not expected to trigger a massive IDF incursion into Gaza due to Israel’s upcoming 60th Anniversary celebrations which start in early May.

An intense gun battle erupted in Gaza this morning when IDF forces from the Givati Brigade spotted several armed Palestinians approaching the Gaza border near Kibbutz Be’eri. When Israeli soldiers crossed into Gaza to intercept the terror cell, they were suddenly attacked in a well-planned ambush featuring heavy gunfire and mortar rounds, leaving three IDF soldiers dead and two more wounded.

The intense battle lasted most of the morning, and the Palestinian militiamen reportedly managed to escape.

Hamas took responsibility for the attack, vowing in a statement to “continue to set ambushes of death against [Israel's] cowardly soldiers… IDF soldiers going into Gaza have four choices: to be killed, captured, seriously wounded, or become psychologically traumatized."

The nature of the ambush again suggests that the ranks of Palestinian terror militias in Gaza have been bolstered recently by operatives who received military training in Iran and Syria and returned during the Rafah border breach in January.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources claim at least 12 Palestinians died in a series of IDF operations across Gaza today, most armed combatants but also including two teens and a Reuters cameraman.

Six of the Palestinian casualties occurred earlier this morning before the ambush that killed 3 IDF soldiers, while the other six died in operations later this afternoon.

Palestinian medics said that IDF soldiers backed by IAF helicopter gunships killed four Hamas members in several engagements close to the Nahal Oz fuel terminal where two Israeli civilians were killed last week by Palestinian terrorists.

Meantime, Muhammad Ghausain, a commander for the Islamic Jihad, was killed in an IAF air strike late Tuesday while riding his motorcycle in northern Gaza, according to Palestinians. The operation was verified by the IDF.

The IDF also targeted a building today where weapons and explosives were stored beside a mosque near Gaza City. Palestinian gunmen were inside the building firing at IDF ground troops operating in the area.

Finally, 12 Kassam rockets fell in the Sderot area today, but no casualties were reported.

Original article: ICEJ
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