Seven Palestinians, including a militant commander, and an Israeli soldier have been killed during a covert Israeli operation in Gaza, Palestinian officials say.
The clash happened Sunday night in circumstances that are still unclear, but resulted in the seven Palestinians being killed, along with the Israeli soldier, and a second Israeli solider being moderately injured, according to the BBC and CNN.
The Palestinian militant organization Hamas identified the deceased military commander as 37-year-old Nour Baraka of the Qassam Brigades.
Reports of the Palestinian deaths were followed by sirens, indicating incoming rocket fire, sounding in Israeli communities close to Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had identified 10 launches; it said the Iron Dome aerial defense system had made two interceptions.
The IDF gave few details of the Special Forces operation that appeared to have triggered the escalation, saying only in a statement that an exchange of fire had erupted during which an officer was killed and another wounded and that the activity had been ended.
Six of the Palestinians killed belonged to and the seventh was a member of the militant Popular Resistance Committees, AFP news agency cited Palestinian officials as saying.
In view of the clashes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to Paris for events to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One and returned to Israel, his office said.
86not intended to kill or abduct terrorists
The BBC says, quoting a former Israeli general, that the incident was likely to have been an intelligence gathering operation that went awry.
Image credit: Reuters