Israeli shot by Gaza sniper dies of wounds: Hospital

JERUSALEM - An Israeli civilian died Tuesday by what the army said was a Palestinian sniper attack as he repaired the Gaza border fence, prompting Israel to warn it would respond "forcefully."

A spokeswoman for the Soroka hospital in southern Israeli city Beersheba, where the man was taken, told AFP "he arrived dead. We pronounced his death here."

Earlier the army had said the man was shot while conducting maintenance work on the Israel-Gaza border fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would respond "forcefully" to the attack.

"This is a very severe incident and we will not sit idly by," he said in remarks relayed by his office. "Our policy has always been foiling attacks and responding forcefully to them. We'll do so in this case as well."

Witnesses in Gaza said Palestinian militants fired mortar rounds at Israeli military vehicles east of the security fence near Nahal Oz, and reported seeing an ambulance evacuate one person.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the emergency services in the Islamist Hamas-run enclave, told AFP an 18-year-old Palestinian was moderately wounded by Israeli fire in the northern-Gaza Beit Lahiya area.

Cross-border exchanges between Israel and Gaza have increased in recent days.

On Monday, the army said troops had fired at an individual "trying to place a bomb" near the fence in northern Gaza.

Earlier the same day, Israeli police reported a rocket fired from the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave had hit southern Israel without causing any casualties or damage.

A Palestinian was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday in southern Gaza, a day after another Palestinian was killed and four wounded along the heavily fortified fence.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said the man killed had been collecting scrap in wasteland near the border.

But the army said it opened fire in response to Palestinian violence, including attempts to place bombs near the security fence.