The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed at least four Palestinians and wounded at least 120 others in the Gaza Strip on Friday, July 20, after suspected Hamas snipers reportedly fired on Israeli soldiers from southern Gaza. The IDF responded to the gunfire with tank and artillery fire, targeting Hamas positions. Among the four Palestinians killed were at least three members of Hamas' armed wing, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The Israeli Air Force also launched a "wide-scale attack" on suspected Hamas targets in the territory. As of Friday evening (local time), Palestinians in Gaza had launched at least three rockets at Israeli territory; two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile air defense system and the third landed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, with no casualties or damages immediately reported.
Additional clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters are possible over the Israel-Gaza border in the near-term. Continuing Palestinian protests are also expected along the Israel-Gaza border in the coming weeks.
Tensions have escalated along the Israel-Gaza border in recent days due to Palestinians in Gaza firing rockets into Israeli territory and launching incendiary balloons from Gaza to burn agricultural land in Israel, prompting a severe Israeli response. On July 14, intense cross-border clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters left at least two Palestinians dead and 14 others wounded, in addition to wounding four Israelis. The series of airstrikes launched by Israel on July 14, targeting suspected Hamas personnel and installations, was reportedly the largest such Israeli salvo since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinian fighters also fired almost 200 projectiles at Israel from Gaza on July 14. Days later, on July 17, Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on the southern Gaza border until further notice, while also suspending shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip until July 22.
In addition, a spike in tensions and cross-border incidents has been observed in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the wake of US President Donald Trump's December 2017 announcement that the US would officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital - a departure from the previous US and international position of neutrality on the status of the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians - and would move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The new embassy was officially opened on May 14.
Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to avoid all protests or other public gatherings due to the high risk of violence and to monitor developments to the situation. Due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
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