Exchange of fire on Gaza border kills Palestinian, wounds 3 Israel soldiers

Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Israeli security forces during protests along the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS) (AFP)

Jerusalem (AFP) - A Palestinian seeking to avenge his brother's death by Israeli fire entered Israel from Gaza Thursday, sparking a firefight in which the Israeli army said he was killed and three Israeli soldiers wounded.

An Israeli tank fired at a Hamas military post after the incident which began at around 2:00 am, Israel's military said.

It said an army officer was moderately wounded and two soldiers were lightly injured by gunfire from the Palestinian, who breached the Israeli border fence from the Khan Yunis area of the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel's military believes he was a member of the Islamist movement Hamas but had acted alone, said army spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

He was armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades, according to Conricus.

He threw at least one grenade and was killed by Israeli soldiers who were scrambled to the area in response, Conricus said.

"Our current assumption is -- and this doesn't look likely to change -- is that he did not act, he was not sent, on an attack mission, but rather that he did this attempted attack on his own," the spokesman told journalists.

His sister Alaa Abu Salah said her brother had sought to die fighting Israeli soldiers in revenge for the death of his brother Fadi in border clashes last year.

"He used to say, 'I want to be martyred; to fight and confront the Jews,'" she told AFP.

"I want to bring a soldier's head to my mother, to make my mother proud and retaliate for my brother Fadi's death until I am martyred and at rest," she quoted him as saying.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, did not comment but a security source in the territory said the gunman was a member of the movement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent the wounded soldiers wishes for a speedy recovery.

There has been tension along the Gaza border since regular protests and clashes erupted there in March 2018.

At least 297 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza or the border area by Israeli fire, the majority during demonstrations and clashes.

Seven Israelis have also been killed.

The protests have declined in intensity recently after a truce brokered by UN officials and Egypt. Under the truce, Israel agreed to take steps to ease aspects of its blockade on Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.