Three soldiers killed in Gaza ambush

Two wounded as troops enter to stop apparent infiltration attempt; 10 rockets hit western Negev.

soldiers rest gaza 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
soldiers rest gaza 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
Three IDF soldiers were killed and two others were wounded Wednesday after coming under heavy fire from Palestinian gunmen while patrolling the border with the Gaza Strip. Givati soldiers were patrolling the border near Kibbutz Be'eri when they spotted a number of armed Palestinians moving towards the border in what appeared to be an attempt to infiltrate into Israel. The soldiers then crossed into Gaza to engage the Palestinians, but fell into a well-planned ambush and came under heavy gun and rocket fire. Initially, two soldiers were killed and three were wounded, one of them seriously. The wounded were then evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, where the soldier in serious condition later died of his wounds. The fighting continued throughout most of the morning. The soldiers who were killed were identified as Sgt. Matan Ovdati, 19, from Patish, Sgt. Menhash Albaniat, 20, a tracker from Kuseife in the Negev and Sgt. David Papian, 21, from Tel Aviv. Hamas took responsibility for the attack, and vowed to continue attacks against Israel. "We will continue to conduct many operations against the occupation, and continue to set ambushes of death against its cowardly soldiers," Hamas said in a flier which was published following Wednesday morning's attack. "IDF soldiers going into Gaza have four choices: to be killed, captured, seriously wounded, or become psychologically traumatized." According to reports, the gunmen managed to escape. Earlier Wednesday, Palestinians reported that six people were killed during IDF operations in Gaza. Hamas reported that four of its gunmen were killed and three were wounded in exchanges of fire with IDF troops. Elsewhere, an Islamic Jihad commander was targeted by an IAF missile while he rode a motorcycle in the Jabalya refugee camp. It was not clear who the sixth man was. Meanwhile, an IDF soldier was moderately wounded when he was shot by a Palestinian sniper during ongoing counter-terror operations near Khan Yunis. The soldier was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Also Wednesday morning, at least ten Kassam rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza. The rockets fell in open areas and did not cause any casualties. Some damage was sustained. On Tuesday, Givati Brigade and Armored Corps troops operating in the Kissufim area fired at a Kassam launching cell, and confirmed hitting it, the IDF said. The soldiers came under heavy mortar and anti-tank fire. No troops were wounded. The army said that IDF soldiers had shot several other armed Palestinians in the battle. Gaza residents said IDF armored vehicles hit and damaged a mosque. The army said the mosque was full of explosives and exploded during an exchange of fire between troops and gunmen located inside. In addition, an Israeli home was hit as Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border, came under heavy mortar fire. No one was wounded, but the roof sustained mild damage.