The Israeli military on Wednesday, December 30, attacked Gaza with artillery and tank fire, injuring three Palestinians in what it claimed was a response to an Israeli man being injured on the border by gunfire. Local Palestinian news media reported that the Israeli attacks took place between the Shejaiya neighborhood and eastern Jabalia, with Israeli tanks opening fire on agricultural lands east of Beit Lahia and east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as near the town of Kissufim, north of Khan Younes. The Israeli military also claimed that it was targeting Hamas military positions, although most of its fire ended up targeting farmers and agricultural lands.
Three Palestinian farmers were injured. Two of them were transferred to a hospital in Beith Hanoun for medical treatment, while one who had suffered a more serious injury was taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza city.
The Israeli military stated that the man injured by gunfire from Gaza was a civilian contract worker involved in doing maintenance work on the border fence. This version contradicts Palestinian local news which stated that the man was an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldier who was wounded by sniper fire from one of the Palestinian resistance groups.
The attacks on Gaza on Wednesday and the exchange of fire between the two sides were the first instance of military conflict since the 11-day Israeli aerial bombing campaign in May this year. The airstrikes were first launched after Palestinians in Gaza began protesting Israeli violence and raids inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.
The airstrikes on Gaza killed around 260 Palestinians, including 41 women and 66 children. More than 2,200 people suffered injuries. The health infrastructure in Gaza, already suffering due to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, was once again pushed to the brink of collapse with hospitals and medical centers filling up with those who were injured. A report this month by a war monitoring group made the startling revelation that the Israeli military deliberately targeted densely populated civilian areas.
When the airstrikes finally ended, the situation in Gaza returned to status quo, with severe Israeli restrictions imposed once again on the entry and exit of people and goods and the blockade still intact. This left Gazans unable to carry out any repair and reconstruction work. Restrictions on the number of nautical miles which Gazan fishermen can access also meant that many Palestinians were left unemployed and thousands of families were left with no means of earning a livelihood.