TEL AVIV (Aug. 2)
An Israel Defense Force officer was shot dead in Gaza Sunday afternoon. The officer, whose name, rank and age were not immediately disclosed pending notification of next of kin, was waiting in his vehicle near the city’s central square when terrorists in a passing vehicle fired four or five shots at the officer at close range. One bullet hit him. He was rushed to a hospital by another IDF officer who happened to drive by, but he died shortly after arrival.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who visited the scene of the killing, said Israel would have an “exceptional response” to what he referred to as an exceptional attack. Israeli troops are often attacked by Palestinians who hurl stones or gasoline bombs at them to protest Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But the shooting of soldiers is rare Rabin also said that no Gaza residents may enter Israel until further notice.
A curfew was clamped on the town and dozens of Palestinians were arrested and held for questioning. Police continued to search the area throughout the day for additional suspects. IDF sources say they thought the killing was a “random attack” carried out by terrorists who were waiting to ambush any Israeli they could find. The Gaza Strip area has been relatively quiet for some months.
(Israeli military censors prohibited journalists from reporting the incident for several hours until the officer’s family was notified of his death. They continued to bar publication of his name. Some reports identified the slain man as the commander of Israel’s military police in the Gaza Strip.)