Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded nine along Gaza’s border fence with Israel on Friday, a Gaza health official said, reporting the first violence since a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took hold a day before.
The shooting appeared to be an isolated incident and was unlikely to jeopardize the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which called for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The truce came after eight days of cross-border fighting, the bloodiest battle between Israel and Hamas in four years.
The Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, has urged militant factions to respect the cease-fire.
The man killed Friday was part of a group of people who approached Israel’s border fence with Gaza to pick up parts of an Israeli army jeep damaged in the fighting, said Gaza health official Adnan Abu Salmia. He said soldiers opened fire, killing one man and wounding nine.
Israel’s military, citing a preliminary investigation, said there have been isolated attempts to infiltrate Israel from Gaza, and that warning shots were fired in the air when the group approached Friday. The military said there was unrest along the border but did not elaborate.
CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports that according to Israeli officials, the group of Palestinians, numbering as many as 300, were trying to raise the Hamas flag and damage the fence.
In the past, Israeli troops enforced a no-go zone on the Gaza side of the frontier, firing on anyone approaching in an attempt to prevent infiltration attempts. Since the cease-fire, growing numbers of Gazans have entered the zone.
In Cairo, Egypt was set to hold separate talks Friday with Israeli and Hamas envoys on the next phase of the cease-fire — a new border deal for blockaded Gaza. Hamas demands a lifting of all border restrictions, while Israel insists that Hamas must halt weapons smuggling to the territory.
The Israeli blockade imposed in 2007 also limited Gaza’s nearly 4,000 fishermen to a three mile-zone along the shore, reports Pizzey. The net result was that Gaza went from being a self-sufficient exporter of fish, to being an importer.
Israel isn’t going to open up the land borders in one fell swoop, adds Pizzey. Troops and armour are pulling back, but at a measured pace.
In Israel, a poll showed that about half of Israelis think their government should have continued its military offensive against Hamas.
The independent Maagar Mohot poll released on Friday shows 49 percent of respondents feel Israel should have kept going after squads that fire rockets into Israel. Thirty-one percent supported the government’s decision to stop.
Twenty-nine percent thought Israel should have sent ground troops to invade Gaza.
The poll of 503 respondents had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.
Pizzey reports that in an unprecedented and, in Israeli terms, grave insult, a photo showing a group of Israeli soldiers has circulated, showing them spell out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname, “Bibi,” in Hebrew with the word “loser.”
The real test of how his handling of this crisis has played in Israel, Pizzey says, will come in national elections scheduled for January 22. Conventional wisdom in the country is that the cease-fire will hold at least until then, and will play in favor of the ruling coalition.
The same survey showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party and electoral partner Israel Beiteinu losing some support, but his hard-line bloc still gaining enough support to form the next government.