Photo Credit: Ofer Zidon / Flash 90
"Tzefa" Cobra AH-1 combat helicopter

This report was posted from New York prior to the start of the Holy Sabbath.

An IDF soldier was killed by sniper fire from Gaza late Friday afternoon (Israel time), the IDF cleared for publication. “A terrorist squad shot at IDF troops and the IDF soldier was severely injured. He later succumbed to his wounds. His family has been notified,” the IDF said in a statement.

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An intense barrage of air strikes by Israeli fighter pilots followed in response, with IDF aircraft bombing Hamas terror targets Friday evening in response to the sniper fire and other attacks by the guerrilla group against the IDF. Early in the evening, 15 Hamas terror targets were struck in an initial sortie. The headquarters of the a battalion were destroyed, along with weapons stockpiles, combat warehouses, training areas, command infrastructure and observations posts. An hour later, Israel Air Force pilots destroyed 25 targets in the compound of a Hamas battalion headquarters in Khan Younis. They included a UAV warehouse, aerial defense systems, various observation posts, and a factory used for underground infrastructure manufacturing.

“Terrorist Hamas seems to seek escalation: sniper fire, IEDs, grenades and lots of attacks along multiple parts of the Gaza fence. IDF is defending and will respond appropriately,” tweeted IDF Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the head of the army’s International Media Branch.

“In response to previous attacks against the IDF, Israeli jets are retaliating against Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip,” said IDF Lt.Col. Jonathan Conrius in a tweet. “They were warned.”

At least four Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists were reported killed in air strikes and artillery shelling by the IDF, as well as an undetermined number of wounded, according to Arab media.

Senior IDF and defense officials gathered at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv Friday evening for a second special situation assessment following the escalation in southern Israel.

Rocket and mortar fire had been aimed at southern Israel from Gaza starting from the early Friday evening, with a Code Red rocket alert siren splitting the night in the Gaza Belt region shortly after 8:30 pm. At least one rocket reportedly landed in an open area in southern Israel. No physical injuries or property damage was reported.

Residents of the area were asked to stay close to their protected areas in the wake of a shooting attack at the border of the southern Gaza Strip.

This report was posted from New York prior to the start of the Holy Sabbath.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.