JERUSALEM – The Israeli army said it foiled an “infiltration” into southern Israel by Gaza militants on Thursday, shortly before a humanitarian ceasefire with Hamas took effect.
“This morning our forces successfully foiled a terror attack,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told journalists in a telephone briefing.
Thirteen militants emerged from a tunnel under the southern Gaza border, and were headed towards Sufa kibbutz, a small community just over a kilometre (mile) away, when they were spotted, Lerner said.
Israel forces killed at least one of the militants in an air raid, he said, leaving the rest scurrying back towards the tunnel.
There were no details of any other deaths or injuries, and there were no casualties on the Israeli side, Lerner said.
Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed in a statement that it was behind the “operation”.
But it denied any of its members had been killed in an air strike, instead saying they had completed their “mission” at 4:00 am (0100 GMT) before retreating back to the tunnel.
It did not elaborate on the aim of the mission.