IDF helicopter in combat (archive)
IDF helicopter in combat (archive)Israel News Photo: (IDF)

Less than a week after the IDF left Gaza, Hamas terrorists returned to “business as usual” with an attack on Israeli soldiers at the Kissufim crossing Tuesday morning in a new violation of the ceasefire that killed one soldier and wounded three others. The fallen soldier was a non-commissioned officer and was identified as a Bedouin, whose name his family declined to publish.

One officer was seriously wounded and two other soldiers were lightly the attack The officer was airlifted by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, where he was rushed into emergency surgery. The other two soldiers were evacuated to Soroka by ambulance.

Terrorists detonated the explosive device around 8:00 a.m. after they had planted along the security fence as an IDF soldiers' vehicle patrolled near the Kissufim crossing. The terrorists also fired a number of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at Israel.

The IDF responded with machine gun and tank fire and shut down the crossing points

According to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot, IDF ground forces returned to Gaza in response to the violation of the ceasefire. Hamas was warned repeatedly by Egypt and Israel not to test Israel's resolve. The government has threatened an immediate and harsh retaliation to any ceasfire violation.

Gunfire was clearly heard in central Gaza, according to local sources, and Israeli helicopters reportedly were seen firing bursts from machine guns. Gaza sources reported one dead, who they said was a farmer, in an exchange of gunfire between soldiers and terrorists. Two explosions were heard in Gaza City as well.

"We hit Hamas hard [in Operation Cast Lead], but that does not mean it will disappear," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak during a Tuesday morning visit to soldiers stationed near Gaza. "There will be attacks occasionally."

Hamas struck on the eve of the visit of new United States Middle East envoy Sen. George Mitchell.

According to the IDF, Hamas told its operatives following the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead to continue to target Israeli soldiers, despite having called for a ceasefire. IDF sources said Tuesday’s attack shows that Hamas does not intend to include activities against Israeli soldiers in its ceasefire agreement.

Hamas previously fired mortar shells on the western Negev on the first day of the truce.