Israel airstrikes
Israel launches air strikes on Gaza after sniper fire Amir Cohen/Reuters file photo

A Palestinian militant has been shot dead after opening fire on Israeli forces near the border of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has named the militant as Tayseer Asmairi, a 33 year old Hamas commander. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force, confirmed that one Israeli soldier had been seriously injured.

It is believed the militant was a sniper from Hamas' armed wing, the al-Qassam brigade. Several Hamas militants opened fire on Israeli forces, who had been patrolling near the southern high-security border fence.

The Israeli army reportedly responded with air strikes and fire from the ground.

It has also been reported that five mortars have been fired by Hamas but all five rounds fell into the sea, resulting in no casualties.

An Israeli statement has been issued, declaring Israel had carried out "immediate attacks against the relevant targets".

The statement read: "In response to the firing at our forces who were east of the fence in the southern Gaza Strip, we carried out immediate attacks against the relevant targets."

It is the second time Israel has launched an air strike on Gaza since a 50-day period of violence ended in August 2014.

On Friday 19 December, a Hamas base was destroyed by an Israeli air strike after Hamas militants reportedly launched rockets from nearby.