JERUSALEM — Israeli military strikes killed four Palestinian militants from the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, late Thursday and early Friday after five Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion near the Israel-Gaza border.
It was the deadliest confrontation in the area since November 2012, when an Israeli offensive set off eight days of fierce cross-border fighting, which ended with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.
The episode began late Thursday when Israeli soldiers from an elite engineering unit were on a mission to destroy part of a mile-long tunnel running beneath the border from Gaza into Israel.
The military said in a statement that during the operation, Hamas detonated an explosive device that wounded five soldiers and that soldiers fired back in response. Gaza security officials said one militant had been killed and several injured. Early on Friday, Israeli warplanes carried out an airstrike against what the military described as another “terror tunnel” in Gaza, killing three more militants.