The recent cycle of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip has been characterized as having been instigated by the shooting of an Israeli defense contractor along the border with Gaza on December 24. This is typical of U.S. mainstream media reporting, but false.
It is also evidently typical of Israeli reporting. As Amos Harel writes in the Israeli daily Haaretz,
From the standpoint of the average Israeli news consumer, the escalation along the Gaza Strip border began at noon on Tuesday, when a Palestinian sniper killed a civilian employee of the Israel Defense Forces near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. But in fact, it seems the current round of violence began last Friday, with a series of incidents in which IDF forces shot at Palestinians approaching the border, killing one and wounding four.
On December 20, IDF soldiers shot and killed Oudeh Hamad and injured his brother Radaad in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel offered the bizarre justification that they were attempting to damage the border fence, but Radaad said that they were just collecting scrap metal and plastic from a junk yard, as they were known to do. Three others were also shot and injured by Israeli soldiers.
On December 22, IDF soldiers shot and wounded another Palestinian man in Gaza.
The same day, Salah Abu Latif, a 22-year-old contractor for Israel’s Defense Ministry, was shot near the border with Gaza while repairing damage to the border fence caused by extreme winter weather. He was the first Israeli to be killed in fire from Gaza since Israel’s 8-day “Operation Pillar of Defense” in November 2012. Although the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) issued a statement acknowledging responsibility for the shooting, Israel announced that it would hold Hamas responsible.
Israel then launched attacks on six locations across Gaza, wounding ten people and killing a 3-year-old girl. Hamas nevertheless responded with restraint, saying that it was not interested in escalating the situation.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the recent violence on both sides, including Israel’s shooting of several Palestinian civilians since Friday.
On December 26, two rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, causing no casualties or damage.
Israel then launched more airstrikes into Gaza, wounding one Palestinian.