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Palestinian Gunmen Kill Two Israelis in Cross-Border Attack

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have carried out a deadly cross-border raid. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the attack is likely to provoke Israeli retaliation.

Four Palestinian gunmen stormed through the border fence in Gaza and attacked an Israeli cargo crossing in a daring daylight raid. They shot and killed two Israeli civilians who work for the company that supplies fuel to Gaza.

Israeli general Yoav Galant who rushed to the scene said it could have been worse.

He said the militants were apparently planning to attack a kibbutz collective farm or to kidnap a soldier. The general said the quick response of Israeli troops prevented further casualties.

Two gunmen were killed and two others fled back across the border. Then, according to Israeli sources, a helicopter fired a missile at the getaway car in Gaza, killing the other two gunmen and apparently their driver.

Two Islamic militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmad described the raid as a "unique and complicated operation." The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said it was a "heroic and courageous" attack.

Israeli officials are furious that the gunmen attacked a cargo crossing that brings in fuel for the Palestinian people.

Cabinet Minister Gideon Ezra said Israel should cut off fuel supplies to Gaza. While Israel has reduced fuel shipments in response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks, it sends in enough fuel and food to Gaza to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

Israel said it holds Hamas responsible for the attack, and it will pay a heavy price.