A total of four Gaza militants were killed overnight in a firefight with Israeli troops sent to destroy Hamas tunnels, officials on both sides said.
Four local commanders of Hamas’s military wing were killed by tank fire, Palestinian officials said, while the Israeli military said that five soldiers were injured by an explosive device.
Palestinian officials said that Rabieh Barikeh was killed instantly in the firefight late Thursday night and Khaled Abu Bakr died of his wounds during the night.
The bodies of Mohammed al Qassas and Mohammed Daoud were discovered later. They said that all were local commanders of Hamas’s Izzadine al-Qassam military wing.
An Israeli military statement said that the fighting erupted when an explosive device went off as troops were clearing a tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israel, allegedly to be used as a springboard for militant attacks.
“During the operation, Hamas detonated an explosive device at the forces wounding five Israeli soldiers. The soldiers were evacuated to an Israeli hospital. In an immediate response the soldiers opened fire and directly hit a terrorist,” it said.
“Furthermore, following Hamas aggression Israeli Air Force aircrafts targeted an additional terror tunnel located in the southern Gaza Strip. A direct hit was identified.”
No Palestinian casualties were reported in that strike. AFP