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Israel bolsters troops on Gaza border ahead of fresh protests

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The Israel Defense Forces sent additional troops to the Gaza border ahead of protests organized by Hamas planned for Wednesday, with the military facing rising tensions on the frontier, alongside growing criticism following a weekend border riot in which a soldier was shot and severely wounded.

Gazan terrorists continued to launch arson balloons into Israel on Tuesday, hours after the IDF struck the Strip from the air late Monday, raising fears that the low-simmer fighting could snowball into a larger confrontation.

The military said that it would make changes to its deployment along the border, after an initial probe into Saturday’s border violence identified a number of failures in the way the army responded to the riots.

Investigators believe a series of mistakes allowed Gazan rioters to reach a group of snipers posted behind a concrete wall, including a man with a pistol who shot soldier Barel Shmueli in the head from point-blank range. Dozens of Palestinians were also injured by Israeli fire during the rioting.

Though the full probe was still underway, the military planned to alter its strategies on the border, sending additional soldiers to the area and updating its rules of engagement to ensure that protesters would not be able to approach the security fence again, the army said.

The military had been criticized after troops apparently held their fire on Saturday to avoid civilian casualties, allowing the rioters to reach the border.

“In recent days, troops have been preparing massively, as specific plans were being approved, drills were performed at different points and reviews were held in the field. IDF troops will act aggressively against attempts at terror along the border,” the military said in a statement.

The changes were approved on Tuesday by the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj.........

© The Times of Israel

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