Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the militants were on a “very significant attempt to attack Israel” and that they carried RPG launchers, assault rifles, grenades, and wire cutters.
He said Israeli soldiers opened fire when the militants tried to climb the fence, and that the militants returned fire before being killed. No Israelis soldiers were injured.
“The terrorists were equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, RPG grenade launchers, and hand grenades,” the Israeli army’s statement said. “The army opened fire after one of the terrorists scaled the barrier and hurled a grenade at the soldiers.”
“The terrorists were equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, RPG grenade launchers and hand grenades. The army opened fire after one of the terrorists scaled the barrier and hurled a grenade at the soldiers.”
Israeli officials claimed the “organization affiliation” of the four militants was unknown but stressed that Hamas, a Palestinian terror group controlling the Gaza strip, was “responsible and accountable for any acts of violence emanating from the Gaza Strip whether they were Hamas operatives or not Hamas operatives.”
A Hamas spokesman said the four Palestinian militants were engaging in “an individual act,” emphasizing that the operation was not planned by Hamas.
Abdel-Latif al-Qanou said Saturday that the attempted infiltration into Israel was carried out by “angry youths” who were enraged over Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza.
“The occupation is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on our people due to the continued siege on Gaza,” he said in a statement.
“The occupation is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on our people due to the continued siege on Gaza.”
Israel and Hamas have agreed to an informal cease-fire in May following the worst round of clashes since the 2014 war.
Hamas has been organizing weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza frontier since March 2018 against the strip’s dire conditions following 12 years of Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
The death of four militants also comes as Israel is in mourning over the death of a 19-year-old soldier in the West Bank, with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denouncing the killing as a terror attack.
Dvir Sorek was found dead with stab wounds in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria on Thursday, the military said. He was a student at a pre-military Jewish seminary in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem. His body was found on the side of a road near the seminary, he was neither armed nor in uniform.
It remains unclear who perpetrated the attack, but the Islamic militant group Hamas celebrated the murder.
“We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.