Israeli forces backed by aircraft and tanks clashed with Palestinian fighters in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing four Palestinians, including one civilian, medical officials said. Separately, a member from Hamas movement died of wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike last week.
According to the AP, the Israeli military said the operation Sunday targeted activists who regularly fire rockets and mortars at southern Israel.
Hamas said the clashes started around 1 a.m. after Israeli undercover units infiltrated houses east of the town of Rafah. Tanks and bulldozers moved across the Israeli border into Gaza to back the troops, and Israeli aircraft struck twice, Hamas stated. The bulldozers were razing farmlands and the army was carrying out arrest sweeps of men under 45, Hamas security and residents said. According to Hamas, at least 25 men were arrested.
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza Health Ministry said three of the four men killed were identified as fighters from the armed wing of Hamas. The fourth was a civilian.