JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least four Palestinian gunmen were killed in an exchange with Israeli troops.
Palestinian gunmen had opened fire Monday on Israeli troops patrolling the Israeli side of the Gaza border. Some of the Palestinians were wearing explosive belts and were accompanied by five horses loaded with explosive devices, according to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.
The gunmen were planting explosive devices at the border when the Monday morning incident began, the IDF said.
At least four of the Palestinian gunmen were killed when the IDF responded with tank and machine-gun fire, with the assistance of combat helicopters, according to reports. Palestinian vehicles were hit while attempting to evacuate the 10 to 12 gunmen.
No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange.
The gunmen reportedly were planning a major attack against Israeli soldiers or on an Israeli community bordering Gaza.
An unknown organization calling itself the Army of Allah’s Supoprters, suspected to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas has not publicly condemned the attack, but according to reports is seeking those responsible to bring them into line. Hamas wants to avoid conflict as the world community pressures Isarel to open all Gaza crossings.
Israel closed the Karni Crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel depot following the attack, but opened it up a few hours later to allow 140 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to pass.