The Israeli military on Sunday released video footage of a foiled infiltration attempt from the northern Gaza Strip the night before, in which five Palestinian men attempted to breach the security fence and enter southern Israel.
In the surveillance camera footage, at least two of the men can be seen holding what appear to be guns.
The Israel Defense Forces said five suspects were spotted by soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras as they approached the border with Israel on Saturday night. An attack helicopter and a tank opened fire on the suspected terrorists, the army said.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, three of the men were killed and a fourth was injured. There was no official comment from the Strip on the fifth terrorist.
An IDF spokesperson said there were no reports of Israeli casualties.
The Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center said the men had been on the Gaza side of the fence when they were killed, and that some of the bodies had been taken by Israel, citing “local sources.” The reports could not be confirmed.
The infiltration attempt came hours after three rockets were fired at southern Israel from the coastal enclave. Two of the projectiles were intercepted. One rocket struck outside a home in the town of Sderot, causing light damage and no injuries.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that Israel later conducted artillery strikes on its positions east of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, near where the men had approached the fence to enter Israel.
On Sunday morning, Hamas said the infiltration attempt was carried out by “rebellious youth,” in an apparent effort to distance itself from the incident.
Spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou said on his Facebook page on Sunday that Israel had “killed and injured four rebellious youths, which is a reflection of its brutal behavior against our people and proof of the ugliness of its crimes.”
Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in Gaza, said in a statement that Israel had targeted a group of “angry youths” and stated that it holds the Jewish state fully responsible for “its ugly crimes at our people’s expense.”
The suspected infiltration attempt came as violence between Israel and Gaza has ramped up considerably in the last three weeks.
On Friday night, terrorists in the Strip fired at least one rocket into Israel, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, the IDF said. There were no reports of injury or damage. In response, the Israeli military struck two underground sites belonging to Hamas.
For the past year, Palestinians have staged regular marches on the Gaza border known collectively as the Great March of Return.
Recent weeks have seen several serious infiltration attempts into Israel. In a span of 10 days, six armed Palestinian terrorists — many of them current and former Hamas members — got through the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip before being killed by Israeli troops. In one case on August 1, the gunman opened fire at IDF soldiers, injuring three of them, before he was shot dead.
Last Saturday, a group of four heavily armed terrorists, carrying assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and rations, attempted to infiltrate Israeli territory before they were spotted and shot dead by troops on the border.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.