JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Israeli army announced Saturday the deaths of two Israeli soldiers by militants who had breached the Gaza border, hours after they had been reported wounded.
An army statement said the two, Sergeant Adar Bersano, 20, from Neharyia, and Major Amotz Greenberg, 45, from Hod Hasharon, were killed during a clash with a number of militants who infiltrated Israel through a tunnel from Gaza.
The fighters, affiliated with Hamas' military wing, infiltrated the southern Israeli region of Eshkol near Ein HaShlosha through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol.
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.
The military said that they returned fire and killed one of the militants, while the rest re-entered the tunnel and returned to Gaza.
It added that they pursued the attackers into Gaza.
The al-Qassam Brigades said earlier on Saturday morning that it had breached "enemy lines" in the northern Gaza Strip and had engaged Israeli forces.
They 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.Ma'an staff contributed reporting.