CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - Three Givati Brigade soldiers were killed Wednesday morning in heavy fighting with Palestinian terrorists in central Gaza.
Around 6:00 a.m, IDF troops identified a group of Palestinian gunmen approaching the security fence near Kibbutz Be'eri in what could have been an infiltration attempt.
A Givati Brigades battalion was deployed three-tenths of a mile on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza.
The Palestinian terror cell members ran for cover in a pre-planned area and opened fire, killing two soldiers, seriously wounding a third, and moderately wounding three more soldiers.
The wounded were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where a third solider succumbed to his injuries.
Following the initial ambush, the troops returned fire, but the terrorists, members of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, managed to escape.
Hamas distributed a flier afterward.
"We will continue to conduct many operations against the occupation and continue to set ambushes of death against its cowardly soldiers," the flier read. "IDF soldiers going into Gaza have four choices: to be killed, captured, seriously wounded or become psychologically traumatized," the Islamic group threatened.
Late Tuesday evening, the IDF targeted Kassam rocket launching pads from the air, while ground troops engaged in fierce firefights with Palestinian gunmen.
Four Hamas gunmen were killed in clashes in Sajaiya, including the brother of senior Hamas operative Halil al-Haya, whose son was killed in a gun battle with IDF soldiers a few months ago.
Hamas gunmen near Khan Yunis fired on IDF troops with mortar shells and automatic rifles.
"We are thwarting attempts to carry out attacks along the border fence on a daily basis, and in most cases this involves complex, fierce fighting with high risk for the soldiers," an army officer said. "We'll investigate the incident and draw the necessary conclusions," he said.
"We must carry out these activities inside Gaza and along the fence to prevent the terrorists from reaching Israeli communities. The soldiers know that they are the only buffer between the terror organizations and the citizens of Israel," he said.
At least 10 Kassam rockets fired into southern Israel by Palestinians in Gaza landed in open areas, with no injuries or property damage reported.
Palestinians fired a barrage of mortar shells at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near the Gaza border, scoring a hit on one home that damaged the roof. No one was injured.
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post