Palestinian militants including Hamas gunmen launched a major raid on an Israeli army post near the Gaza Strip border on Sunday in an attack that left casualties on both sides, Israeli media and other sources said.
Israeli radio stations said there were several Israeli casualties in the attack, in which militants fired rockets and automatic weapons. Hamas, which runs the Palestinian government, said it killed several Israelis. The army had no immediate comment.
At least three militants were killed in the raid near the Kerem Shalom border crossing, an Israeli rescue service and Palestinian sources said.
The Israeli army said that one of its positions near Kerem Shalom, around the southern part of Gaza, had been hit by an anti-tank missile. The army declined to provide additional details.
The clash was still going on one hour after militants launched the dawn raid.
“Apparently an anti-tank missile hit a tank. The clash is still in progress,” an army spokeswoman said.
The Hamas armed wing said it helped carry out the raid, which also involved the People’s Resistance Committees (PRC), an umbrella group of militants and the Islamic Army.
“There was an operation to land fighters behind the Kerem Shalom crossing. There is a large number of fatalities and wounded among the enemy,” said Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing.
The militants said the operation was in response to the Israeli assassination this month of PRC leader Jamal Abu Samhadana and air strikes aimed at militants firing homemade rockets from Gaza that have also killed civilians.
Hamas ended a 16-month-old truce with Israel on June 9 after seven members of one Palestinian family were killed on a Gaza beach during a day of heavy Israeli shelling. Hamas has blamed Israel for those deaths. Israel has denied responsibility.
The militant Islamic group Hamas took over the Palestinian government in March after winning parliamentary elections in January.
Israel completed a withdrawal of Jewish settlers and soldiers from Gaza in September last year after 38 years of occupation. No Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since then.