A pre-dawn exchange of fire erupted in the Khan Younes area of southern Gaza on Thursday, Aug. 1 when an IDF patrol intercepted a Palestinian infiltrator who opened fire on the troops, injuring three. An officer was moderately injured. The Palestinian shooter was killed in return fire and Israel tanks shelled Hamas positions. The outbreak began shortly after the IDF ended a four-day exercise. According to unconfirmed sources, including eye-witness reports to social media, a large IDF force retaliated with massive strength against Hamas including aircraft and naval vessels which battered southern Gaza from the sea. Civilian locations were placed on alert and soldiers deployed at key points and blocked roads in defensive posture.
The fighting flared just hours after the IDF wound up a four-day exercise for drilling its response to a sudden outbreak of hostilities from the Gaza Strip that would coincide with fighting on the northern border. Summing up the exercise, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Avivi Kochavi said the IDF had attained a high level of preparedness but warned the troops not to be lulled or deceived by the relative calm of recent weeks and to stand ready for the situation to change suddenly at any moment.
DEBKAfile’s sources: The incident occurred shortly after a senior Hamas delegation led by Salah Al-Arouri, returned from Tehran, where it was received by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and discussed a fresh supply of Iranian arms to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip.