GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian militant in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday in what the military later described as a mistake.
It was the first fatality along the volatile border since an informal cease-fire was reached in May and raised the risk of inadvertently sparking a new round of violence.
Hours after the shooting, the Israeli military said that soldiers had spotted two Palestinians near the border fence and "misidentified" a member of the Hamas unit that maintains calm along the frontier.
"In retrospect, it appears that the IDF troops who arrived at the location misidentified the Hamas restraint operative to be an armed terrorist and fired as a result of this misunderstanding," the army said. It said the incident was being reviewed.
Earlier, Hamas accused the army of "deliberately" firing at one of its members, 28-year-old Mahmoud al-Adham, in the town of Beit Hanoun. The Islamic militant group, which rules Gaza, vowed to retaliate.
Israel and Hamas came to the brink of full blown conflict in May, the worst round of violence between the two sides since a 2014 war. Palestinian militants bombarded Israel with hundreds of rockets, while Israel carried out several hundred airstrikes on militant targets in Gaza; 23 Palestinians and five Israelis were killed in the barrages.
Egyptian, Qatar and U.N. mediators managed to halt the fighting and are working to strike a lasting cease-fire agreement.