Four Hamas terrorists breached the Gaza security border on Tuesday amid the ongoing shower of rockets, which have continued raining on Israel after IDF Operation Protective Edge was launched the previous night.
The terrorists entered Israel by sea and were on their way to Kibbutz Zikim, located roughly a kilometer and a half (around one mile) north of Gaza along the coast, when they encountered IDF forces from the Givati infantry brigade at a military base near the kibbutz.
A gunfight broke out, with all four terrorists being eliminated in the exchange of fire.
"A number of terrorists came out of the ocean and attacked the base with Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades," said army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.
He said soldiers on the base near kibbutz Zikim, just north of the Gaza Strip, shot two of the terrorists, aircraft killed a third and the navy killed the fourth.
One IDF soldier was lightly injured in the exchange.
On the bodies of the four terrorists large quantities of weapons and ammunition were found, including RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), explosives and hand grenades.
IDF forces are continuing to search the area to confirm that no other terrorists succeeding in breaching the security border. Residents of the Kibbutz have been ordered to stay in their homes for the time being.
Some reports suggest security forces suspect the four terrorists entered Israel in an attempt to abduct Israelis. Hamas reportedly took credit for the breach a short time after it was foiled. The Islamist group, which rules Hamas and has led the recent onslaught of rocket attacks against Israel, is widely believed to be behind the June 12 kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens.
In a statement taking credit for the attack, Hamas did not mention any of its casualties but falsely claimed that it had inflicted "heavy casualties" on IDF soldiers. It also claimed to have fired 10 Katyusha missiles at the IDF base.
Given the fact that the terrorists seemingly entered Israel by sea, there has been speculation that they were members of Hamas's elite naval "commandos".
Earlier on Tuesday the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike on a car in the Daraj neighborhood in the center of Gaza City, killing four people according to local reports.
Family members said all four were Hamas terrorists, and identified one as Mohammed Shaaban (32), a senior commander in Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades.
Significantly, Shaaban was also head of Hamas's naval operations, according to the reports. The IDF confirmed targeting Shaaban, describing him as "a senior Hamas operative."