Gaza (Web Desk): Israeli forces martyred at least seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a clandestine raid targeting a Hamas commander and air attacks that provided cover for the commandos to escape back into Israel by car, Al Jazeera reported.
The Israeli incursion and air attacks drew rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled enclave late on Sunday. A senior Hamas official said the Israeli special forces team infiltrated an area near the southern city of Khan Younis in a civilian vehicle.
Among those reported killed in the attack was Nour Baraka, a prominent commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.
A ground operation inside the Gaza Strip is rare and it is likely to raise tensions significantly.
"We heard that a special Israeli unit went inside Khan Younis and assassinated Nour Baraka and another [commander]," Ghazi Hamad, senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera.
"After [that], the car which carried this special unit or some collaborators, they tried to escape … but they were followed by Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades and after that Israel tried to cover this car through striking here in Gaza," he added.
Witnesses said that, during the chase, Israeli aircraft fired more than 40 missiles in the area where the incident took place, killing at least four other people.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesperson for Hamas, denounced what he called a "cowardly Israeli attack".