Four IDF soldiers were lightly wounded and three Hamas fighters reportedly killed early Sunday in the first ground battle since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8.

According to the IDF, a force of IDF naval commandos set out to destroy a long-range rocket cache and launch site near Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip.

The force encountered Hamas fighters belonging to the group’s armed wing on Sudaniya Beach. Hamas claimed early Sunday that the encounter was not accidental; the fighters had ambushed the IDF soldiers.

According to unconfirmed reports from Hamas sources, three Hamas fighters died in the ensuing firefight.

The IDF said Sunday that four soldiers were lightly wounded and were evacuated to hospitals in Israel, but not before the rocket-launching site was destroyed by the army.

“The mission was accomplished,” the army’s spokesperson’s unit said in a tweet.

“The target was attacked and hit,” an IDF statement said (Hebrew link).

IDF naval and air units bombarded the rocket site during the fighting, according to reports.

Foreign journalists in Gaza reported hearing the gun battle.

Explosions, apparently from the battle, could be seen from far away.