IDF soldier killed and four others wounded in central Gaza

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed in a pre-dawn attack Tuesday, in a bomb blast set off by Palestinian militants northwest of the Karni Crossing in the central Gaza Strip. The soldier was identified as Staff Sergeant Nadav Kudinsky, 20, of Kiryat Gat. Four other soldiers were wounded – two moderately and two lightly – in an ensuing gunbattle as they moved to extricate their comrade. The moderately wounded soldiers were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, the sources said. A lightly wounded soldier was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Military censors allowed details of Kudinsky’s death to be released only after his family had been informed. He was to be buried at 3 P.M. Tuesday in the Kiryat Gat cemetery. Hours later, an Israel Air Force aircraft fired a missile at armed Palestinians in the same area, killing a member of Islamic Jihad. The IDF said the militant was involved in the predawn attack on troops. The initial blast occurred as infantry soldiers from the Golani Brigade were searching an area several hundred meters from the Israel-Gaza border fence for weapons and militants. The badly wounded Kudinsky, who served in the Oketz canine unit, was hit by the bomb as he searched a booby-trapped chicken coop. Both Kudinsky and his dog died before his comrades managed to pinpoint their location. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had planted roadside bombs and land mines in the coop and detonated them as the soldiers approached. At least four Palestinians were also wounded in the gun battle that followed the bomb blast. According to one report, three of them, including a 14-year-old boy, died of their wounds. The firefight continued to rage for nearly 45 minutes after the initial blast. At one point, militants fired a rocket that exploded near an IDF tank, causing no damage. Central Gaza residents reported hearing a loud explosion before dawn, which they said was followed by an exchange of fire between IDF troops and militants. The IDF later deployed helicopter gunships which opened machinegun fire at militant targets in the area, they said. In a separate incident Tuesday morning, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an IDF outpost near Neveh Dekalim in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no Israeli casualties and troops returned fire. BPI-info