A Hamas cross-border attack on Israeli forces outside Kissufim Friday, March 26, killed an officer, Maj. Eliraz Peretz, Dep. Commander of Golani Battalion 12, 31, from Eli and 1st Sgt. Ilan Seviatsovsky, 21, from Rishon Lezion.
Two Israeli soldiers were also injured in the heavy fighting which followed when an Israeli tank and artillery force which crossed in to shell the attackers was ambushed by a second Hamas unit firing anti-tank weapons and bombs. Israeli helicopter gunships were sent in as the battle escalated into the heaviest Israel-Hamas engagement since Israel's Cast Lead anti-terror operation in early 2009.
Israel says Hamas is accountable for the attack.
Maj. Peretz's elder brother, Uriel, was killed in action in Lebanon 12 years go.
On the Palestinian side, the Hamas military arm, Izz-e-dine al Qassam, reported its gunmen attacked an Israeli force which entered southern Gaza from the Kissufim area, while an organization calling itself Taliban-Palestine claimed its men staged the attack.
debkafile's military sources report a persistent rise in tension on the Gaza-Israeli border with Hamas with a smattering of missiles and other provocations every few days.
Exactly a week ago, on March 19, three pairs of motorbike riders, claimed to be from an al Qaeda-linked outfit, crashed through Gaza's border fence and opened RPG and automatic fire on Israelis soldiers on patrol near the Israeli village of Kfar Azza. They missed and swerved back into the Gaza Strip before the soldiers could return the fire. There were no casualties on either side.
Monday, March 22, the same Kissufim sector was the scene of an Israeli firefight with three Palestinian intruders from southern Gaza. Sgt. Gabriel Cepic, 21, was killed by friendly fire when a Golani infantry unit mistook his tank force for Palestinian gunmen.
Our counter-terror sources report that Palestinian terrorist groups operating under the al Qaeda-linked Jalalalat umbrella control extensive areas of southern Gaza.