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Qassam Brigades says members infiltrated Israel

The Israeli army announced thwarting an attempt by 13 Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israel via an underground tunnel from GAza

The Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said Thursday that a group of its fighters had managed to infiltrate Israel in the early hours ofThursday and return home safe.

"A special unit has staged an infiltration into Sufa area [in southern Israel] at 4am GMT," the group said in a statement.

It added that the group had carried out its mission before coming under Israeli fire.

"All members returned safely," al-Qassam said.

The statement, which gave no further details, contradicts the Israeli version of the story.

The Israeli army had announced thwarting an attempt by 13 Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israel through an underground tunnel extending from southern Gaza Strip to Sufa.

Israel's Channel 2 and Israel radio claimed that eight out of 13 Hamas fighters were killed by Israeli forces while the other five fled back to Gaza.

The developments came as a U.N.-proposed five-hour humanitarian ceasefire between the Palestinian factions and Israel came into force.

Since July 7, Israeli warplanes have pounded the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire from the besieged coastal enclave.

At least 227 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed so far – and more than 1700 injured, many seriously – in the unrelenting airstrikes.

Gaza-based resistance factions, of which Hamas is the most prominent, have continued to fire rockets at Israel – some of which have reached Tel Aviv – in response.

One Israeli has been killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.

The ongoing military operation, dubbed "Operation Protective Edge," is Israel's third major offensive against the embattled Gaza Strip – home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – in the last six years.

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