An Israeli citizen and two terrorists were killed this morning (Monday, June 18 2012) during a clash between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and terrorists who infiltrated the southern border with Egypt.
Initial information reveals that a terrorist cell operating out of the Gaza Strip set off an explosive device on the Philadelphi strip near the southern border with Israel and fired an RPG rocket at a team of Defense Ministry employees who were working on the construction of the border fence. As a result of the attack, two workers were wounded. One later died of his wounds.
In the exchange of fire, Israeli forces killed two of the terrorists who penetrated the border.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Today there was a terrorist attack on our border with Egypt, during which an Israeli civilian, a resident of Haifa, Said Fashapshe, a father of four, was killed. We send condolences to his family.
During the incident, two terrorists were killed. The operation was most likely directed against Israeli citizens and was initiated against workers building our security fence on the Egyptian border. This will not stop us.
This fence is designed to prevent both terrorism and the entry of infiltrators. From our perspective, its construction is a supreme national interest. I believe that if we hadn't decided two years ago to build the fence, we would be facing a flood of infiltrators and - no less than this - a flood of terrorism."
Rocket and Mortar Barrage from the Gaza Strip
Since the early morning hours of June 19, Gaza-based terrorist groups have launched a barrage of mortars and rockets towards Israeli population centers in southern Israel. So far, 158 rockets and mortars were launched, 130 of which landed in Israeli territory. Hamas, Fatah's armed wing, the Popular Resistance Committees, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have taken responsibility for several of the launches. The active participation of Hamas along with the other terrorist groups in this latest escalation marks a significant shift in the organization's policy, as it has avoided direct participation in the previous escalations since March 2011.
On June 19, a rocket hit near Kibbutz Yad Mordehai, moderately injuring a Border Guard Police soldier and lightly injuring four others. Another rocket hit Pri Gan and caused structural damage to several buildings. In addition, a rocket hit a home in Kibbutz Saad, causing structural damage but no casualties.
The rockets are predominantly launched from heavily populated areas in the Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanun, Jabaliya, Rafah and several neighborhoods in Gaza. In response, the IAF has initiated a number of pinpoint strikes, targeting operatives and terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including weapons production facilities, military positions and tunnels intended for terrorist attacks.