Hamas Denies Responsibility for Gaza Sniper Attack

Hamas says sniper who critically wounded Israeli soldier 'not one of ours', says it has communicated with Israel via a third-party.

Ari Soffer ,

Hamas terrorist snipers (file)
Hamas terrorist snipers (file)
Flash 90

Hamas has denied the sniper who carried out Wednesday morning's attack against IDF soldiers was one of their members.

Wednesday's shooting attack left an Israeli soldier critically wounded.

Kol Yisrael journalist Gal Berger cited a statement by the Islamist terror group, which claimed it had contacted Israel via a third party to "make it clear" that the sniper was not one of their own, and that they had launched an "investigation" into the incident.

Intriguingly, the unnamed third party was not Egypt, the group said. Tensions between Cairo and Hamas have been growing in recent months, particularly following a deadly suicide bombing in late October, part of a wider Islamist insurgency which Egypt accused Hamas of participation in.

The denial of involvement appears to be at odds with a statement released by Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri following the clashes, in which he blamed Israel for initiating the clash but confirmed Hamas terrorists had been involved in the gunfight.

"The Israeli occupation is responsible for the tension east of Khan Yunis. They tried to cross the border, provoking a response from Hamas," he said.

Moreover, the subsequent Israeli return fire killed a senior Hamas military commander and left two others wounded. 33-year-old Tayseer al-Ismary headed the surveillance unit in Hamas's "armed wing," the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades. It was not clear what a senior Hamas surveillance commander was doing at the site of a sniper attack attack if the group was uninvolved as it claims.

But in its statement quoted by Berger, Hamas claimed that both it and Israel were interested in maintaining the relative quiet in the south.

That quiet has been pierced several times by Gazan terrorists since the August ceasefire with Israel which ended Operation Protective Edge, including a rocket attack on a Kibbutz last Friday.

That attack - the third of its kind since the ceasefire - is believed to have been carried out by terrorist factions other than Hamas. However, Israel holds Hamas responsible for any attacks from the territory it controls.