Last updated: 4 February, 2014

Israel officer killed by friendly-fire on Gaza border

An Israeli army officer was killed overnight in a friendly-fire incident along the Gaza border, the military said on Tuesday.

The officer had been taking part in a “routine operation” near the border fence between northern Gaza and Israel, a spokesman said.

“The IDF (army) confirms an IDF officer was killed overnight following misidentified (weapon) discharge during routine activity adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The circumstances of the incident are being investigated,” a military statement said.

Several hours later, Palestinian militants fired a rocket over the border which struck the southern Eshkol region, causing no injuries or damage, the army said.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers announced after the incident they had redeployed a 600-strong special security force tasked with preventing cross-border rocket fire, after reports it had pulled the unit back two days before.

Hamas spokesman Islam Shahwan said the movement would “not allow the occupation (Israel) to break off the ceasefire” that ended an eight-day, full-scale conflict with the Jewish state in November 2012.

The Hamas force was deployed on January 21, but withdrawn at the weekend as a protest after four overnight Israeli strikes on Hamas training facilities across the impoverished enclave.

While Hamas does not routinely launch projectiles at the Jewish state, Israel says it holds the Islamist group that seized power in Gaza in 2007 responsible for such attacks.