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Hamas infiltrates Israel and attacks army patrol, injuring at least 2

July 19, 2014 11:25 A.M. (Updated: July 21, 2014 1:13 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fighters affiliated with Hamas' military wing on Saturday infiltrated the southern Israeli region of Eshkol near Ein HaShlosha through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol, injuring at least two soldiers in the ensuing firefight.

Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the raid in a statement, adding that "Heavy fighting is ongoing with the forces of the occupation."

The Israeli military said in a statement that militants opened fire on the attackers with machine guns and an anti-tank missile, "moderately" wounding two soldiers in the patrol.

The military said that they returned fire and killed one of the militants, while the rest re-entered the tunnel and returned to Gaza.

The Israeli military added that they pursued the attackers into Gaza.

The military wing of Hamas said earlier on Saturday morning that it had breached "enemy lines" in the northern Gaza Strip and had engaged Israeli forces.

The al-Qassam Brigades said that they had managed to infiltrate Israeli lines in the area, which has witnessed heavy fighting since the beginning of the Israeli ground invasion late Thursday.

Israeli news site Haaretz, meanwhile, reported that four soldiers were injured in the attack, two "lightly."

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli media reported the sound of explosions and intense clashes in the southern Israeli region of Eshkol.

Israeli Channel 10 warned Israelis not to enter the region, highlighting that the focus of the conflict was in northern Eshkol, near the central Gaza Strip.

Three Israeli soldiers were reported injured in clashes in northern Gaza Saturday morning and transferred to Suruka hospital inside Israel, but it was unclear if the incidents were related.

Palestinian fighters have injured at least 12 Israeli soldiers since the ground invasion began late Thursday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information on the incident, but said that a few rockets had hit the region.

Israeli media reported that a rocket struck Eshkol around 11 a.m. on Saturday and caused a fire, while two other rockets fell in Dimona without causing damage.

Since Israel commenced hostilities on the Gaza Strip 12 days ago, 321 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,200 wounded in the Israeli bombardment.

AFP contributed to this report.
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