The military wing of Hamas foiled an Israeli operation of "utmost importance" for Israeli security in Gaza last night, the movement said on Monday. Al-Qassam Brigades explained that a group of Israeli Special Forces infiltrated the eastern area of the city of Khan Younis to carry out a secret operation.
"The resistance forces discovered them, stopped them and started to deal with them," said the official statement. When the Israeli forces became sure that they were compromised, it added, an exchange of fire led to the killing of field leader Nour Baraka and another six Palestinian fighters.
This, the Hamas military wing pointed out, was due to the heavy air cover under which the Israeli forces fled. One Israeli officer was also killed in the incident, and another was wounded.
According to Israeli media report, army officials said that the Special Forces penetrated the eastern fence near Khan Younis to carry out a "complicated intelligence operation." The action, they claimed, was for intelligence purposes, not for an assassination or a kidnapping.
"It was planned despite the efforts to reach a [ceasefire] arrangement," said army spokesperson Ronen Manelis. "The Israeli Defence Forces that operated last night in the Gaza Strip became trapped in a highly complex situation. The soldiers acted heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory."
The Israeli army did not reveal the identity of its soldier who was killed in the operation, claiming to do so would undermine Israel's security. However, Maariv revealed that the lieutenant colonel was the most senior Israeli soldier to be killed since 2014.