Army says sea-borne Hamas infiltration thwarted, two terrorists killed

Infiltration alarms sound in virtually empty Gaza border towns of Zikim and Karmia, as army spokesman says Navy spotted Hamas cell entering sea from a tunnel and opened fire

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Hamas terrorists are seen attempting to infiltrate into Israel, October 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Hamas terrorists are seen attempting to infiltrate into Israel, October 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip via the sea on Tuesday evening and were killed by Israeli Navy forces, the military said.

During the incident, an alarm signifying a suspected infiltration sounded in the border communities of Zikim and Karmia, which have largely been evacuated since Hamas’s deadly assault on southern Israel on October 7. Only a few essential personnel and local security teams remain in the area, which has been declared a closed military zone.

On Wednesday morning the IDF said it had confirmed killing two Hamas divers. Earlier Hebrew-language media reports had put the number at between five and eight.

The IDF said a fighter jet also carried out an airstrike against a compound from which the terrorists set out.

Later, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Navy forces were continuing to search for additional possible terrorists in the area.

Hagari said Navy forces — including naval commandos — operating across from the coast of Gaza City spotted the Hamas cell entering the sea from a tunnel. Navy forces opened fire at the divers, killing them, “and are currently in the process of making sure that there aren’t any more members of the cell in the sea,” he said.

The military issued video of the incident.

In a statement, Hamas claimed responsibility for the sea-borne attack attempt, and said its members had clashed with Israeli forces after ostensibly managing to infiltrate into Israel.

Later in the evening, an infiltration warning sounded again in Zikim, Karmia and Netiv Ha’asara, although shortly afterward the IDF Home Front Command said that the incident was over and an all-clear was given.

Both during and since Hamas’s October 7 invasion of southern Israel, the Navy foiled a number of infiltration attempts via the sea.

Footage released by the IDF last week showed members of the Navy’s Snapir unit killing Hamas terrorists attempting to infiltrate via the sea on the morning of October 7. The IDF said that the Navy killed dozens of Palestinian terrorists on speedboats and other vessels during the assault that weekend.

Two days later, the Navy also took into custody the deputy commander of the southern division of the Hamas naval force, Muhammad Abu Ghali.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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