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Young girl killed in Israel airstrike on Gaza in retaliation for maintenance worker's shooting

Amir Cohen / Reuters

Israeli military jeeps at the scene of the shooting near the border with the northern Gaza Strip, near kibbutz Nahal Oz, on Tuesday.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip which killed two people including a young girl on Tuesday after an Israeli civilian was shot dead while fixing security fences on the border of the territory, officials said.

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas training camps in Khan Younis and al-Bureij, witnesses and officials from the Islamic group which rules Gaza told Reuters. Witnesses said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Gaza city.

A girl, whom they estimated was two-years-old, was killed by shrapnel during the Israeli strike on the Bureij facility, Gaza hospital officials said.

Reuters cited officials saying that she was standing with other family members outside their home near the camp and two of her brothers were wounded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised reprisal earlier Tuesday after a man was gunned down by a sniper as he did maintenance work on the Israel-Gaza security fence in the northern Gaza strip.

"This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered," Netanyahu said in a statement through his office.

"Our policy until now has been to act beforehand and to respond in force, and this is how we will act regarding this incident as well."

Later, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement: "The security fence is paramount in protecting the civilians of the state of Israel and preventing the terrorists from reaching our towns and communities.

"The IDF will continue to operate against those who use Gaza as a safe haven for terrorism against our civilians. Israel holds the Hamas terror organization accountable for all acts of terrorism originating from the Gaza Strip."

No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The shooting victim was taken by an Israeli Air Force aircraft to the nearby Soroka Medical Center, in Beersheba, but hospital staff told NBC News later on Tuesday that he died from his wounds.

Haaretz reported the man was employed by Israel's Defense Ministry. The newspaper said he was helping repair part of the security fence damaged by extreme winter weather last week.

Army officials said the man was hit by a single gunshot, leading them to believe it was a sniper, according to Haaretz. They added that no gunfire was returned.

The man was the first Israeli killed on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

However, violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months, with a bus bombing which wounded one person near Tel Aviv on Sunday and the stabbing of an Israeli policeman on Monday.

At least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood resumed in July after a three-year break, according to Reuters.

Alexander Smith reported from London. Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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