Two Palestinian gunmen ambushed Israeli soldiers riding in a jeep Saturday in the Gaza Strip, killing two soldiers and wounding one, the army said.
The deaths were Israel’s first casualties in the occupied territory since six soldiers were slain in December, prompting the government to expel more than 400 Palestinians to Lebanon.
In clashes in Gaza that followed the ambush, 10 Palestinian youths were wounded by army gunfire or beatings, including a 5-year-old girl struck in the ear by a bullet, Arab reports said.
In Amman, Jordan, a faction of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the ambush, saying it acted in revenge for the killing of one of its activists in Gaza on Wednesday. But Gaza’s military commander, Brig. Gen. Samiah Yom-Tov, said the assailants belonged to Hamas, another fundamentalist Muslim movement.
The soldiers were ambushed at 5:30 a.m. while patrolling a dirt road in a Jewish settlement, Ganei Tal, the army said.
They penetrated the settlement fence and waited in the bushes for the patrol, then opened fire with automatic weapons from five yards away as the jeep drove by, the military said.
The Gaza Strip is home to about 750,000 Palestinians and about 6,000 Jewish settlers.