GAZA, (Reuters) – Israeli troops firing into the Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian man on Tuesday near the boundary where militants and soldiers have exchanged fire in recent days, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.
Violence also flared in the West Bank, where 13 Palestinians were shot and wounded in fighting between troops and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli raid in the northern city of Nablus, two critically.
The incidents were the latest to mar a nine-month-old ceasefire. Israel has stepped up operations against militants, including deadly air strikes in Gaza, since a suicide bomber killed five people at an Israeli shopping mall last Monday.
In Gaza on Tuesday, witnesses said a 45-year-old farmer from Abassan village near the Strip”s boundary with Israel was killed by an Israeli tank shell as he headed to his fields.
The Israeli army said soldiers had fired in the air near Abassan with light weapons to prevent Palestinians from approaching the boundary fence, but had not fired shells.
Palestinian militants have sporadically fired rockets into Israel from Gaza since Israel”s withdrawal from the impoverished strip in September following 38 years of occupation. The rocket fire has prompted Israeli fire in response.
Witnesses said militants had fired rockets at Israel from near Abassan overnight. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has struggled to impose order in Gaza since the Israeli pullout.
In the West Bank, witnesses said Israeli soldiers wounded 12 stonethrowers and a gunman during clashes in Nablus in which militants mingled with youth throwing stones at soldiers during an Israeli arrest raid.
The Israeli army said troops had fired toward Palestinian gunmen who shot at them, but did not believe their fire had hit anyone. The army denied targetting stonethrowers.
Military sources said two soldiers were lightly hurt from an explosive device thrown by Palestinians during the raid. They said gunmen had opened fire several times at the troops.
The Israeli army regularly raids Nablus, a bastion for militants behind suicide bombings against Israelis during a five-year-old Palestinian uprising.