Two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinian gunmen have been killed in a clash on the border of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
A gun battle erupted after Israeli troops spotted Palestinian gunmen planting a bomb on the Gaza border.
Israeli General Yoav Galant told reporters at the scene that an army force crossed the border to neutralize the bomb and was ambushed. Then there was a fierce exchange of fire. It was the deadliest border clash since Israel's massive invasion of the Gaza Strip 14 months ago.
In Gaza, the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
A masked militant named Abu Obeida told a news conference that Hamas fighters carried out what he called a "brilliant attack on Zionist occupation forces."
The attack could mark a change in tactics for Hamas, which has mostly avoided confrontation since a severe pounding by Israel during the Gaza War. Israel launched the war in response to years of Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Hamas could be trying to heat up the border again, but Israel will send a message of deterrence.
He said the Israeli army will strike back at Hamas at the appropriate time and place.