GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas' armed wing said Saturday that a group of its operatives infiltrated Israeli territory for the second time in a day and killed five Israeli soldiers.
The al-Qassam Brigades said the fighters tunneled under the Gaza border into Israeli territory near the Sufa crossing east of Rafah. Then they shot five soldiers dead, the group said.
It said three were killed by direct gunshots to the head, while the others suffered bullet wounds in other areas of their bodies.
Only hours earlier, the Israeli army announced the deaths of two soldiers by militants who had breached the Gaza border.
An army statement said those 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, also affiliated with Hamas' military wing, infiltrated the southern Israeli region of Eshkol near Ein HaShlosha through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol.
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 group had reported 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.