VIDEO - Two Israelis were killed Wednesday afternoon in exchanges of fire that erupted near the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in the central Gaza Strip, the Magen David Adom emergency services reported.
The Israelis killed in the attack were employed at the terminal. They were identified as Oleg Lipson, 37-years old, and Lev Charniak, 53-years old; both from Beersheba. The Zaka emergency service said two Palestinian gunmen were killed as well. Spokesmen for militant groups who claimed responsibility for the raid said the remaining attackers withdrew back into the Gaza Strip, under fire from pursuing Israeli helicopters and tanks.
Video courtesy of infolive.tv
According to a Palestinian source, the gunmen were affiliated with the Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' the Salah al-Din Brigades, and Fatah's Mujahideen fighters of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
The source further said the fight "will go on until the last bullet."
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Three Palestinians were killed in an ensuing Israel Air Force strike in Gaza City, sources in the Strip said.
The IDF reported that an army aircraft struck and hit a vehicle carrying gunmen who were involved in the shooting attack in Nahal Oz. The Palestinians said those killed were teenagers hit by a missile.
Soldiers patrol Nahal Oz area after attack (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
IDF officials estimated that during the incident in Nahal Oz, which occurred shortly after 3 pm, three-to-five gunmen infiltrated the fuel terminal, hit the two Israelis and fled back into the Strip. According to the army, the terror cell set out to abduct soldiers in the area. Simultaneously, a large number of mortar shells were fired at the area.
'Hamas will pay a heavy price'
Western diplomats said Nahal Oz was raided after completion of the latest delivery of EU-funded fuel to the Gaza Strip's main power plant.
Scene of attack (Photo: Zeev Trachtman)
It was unclear how much damage, if any, was done to the fuel depot at the crossing. Even if no serious damage was caused, the raid could prompt Israel to block, on security grounds, future deliveries and force the power plant to shut down.
"Hamas will pay a heavy price for its actions," an official in Jerusalem stated Wednesday, claiming that the terror attack in Nahal Oz was orchestrated by the Islamist organization. "Hamas is responsible for the attack in Nahal Oz – it took part in authorizing it, planning it and perhaps even more."
"This a cynical attack," an official added. "On the one hand, Hamas complains of the blockade on Gaza, and on the other hand it is responsible for the attack on the fuel terminal, which provides gas and fuel to the residents of the Strip," he stated.
Southern Command Chief Brig.-Gen. Yoav Galant said the raid had the characteristics of a kidnapping attempt.
"A large-scale attack was averted and the terrorists were hit at an early stage. We killed two of them and will get the others as well. Unfortunately two Israeli civilians were killed in this incident," he added.
Paramedic and Nahal Oz resident Avi Tayger, who was alerted to the scene, told Ynet "We entered the terminal a few minutes after the mortar shells fell, and found two Israelis that had been shot."
"One (of the victims) was inside a vehicle and the other was outside. Both sustained multiple bullet wounds," he added. "We understood that there was no way to save them." The two victims were employed by the terminal.
An IDF soldier was killed and two others were lightly injured Tuesday night during an Israeli raid in the southern Gaza Strip, near the Kissufim crossing.
The killed soldier was identified as Staff Sergeant Sayef Bisan, 21, of the Druze village of Jat in the western Galilee. His family was informed of his death. The wounded troops were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Hanan Greenberg, Reuters contributed to the report