Two Israeli soldiers have been killed during clashes with Hamas fighters on the Gaza Strip’s southern border, the Israeli army has said.
Two other soldiers were wounded during the fighting which broke out east of the town of Khan Younis.
Two Palestinian militants were also killed in the clashes inside the Gaza Strip, sources say.
During the clashes, a BBC correspondent says it appears there may have been an opportunistic bid to seize a soldier.
According to Palestinian sources, Israeli forces used tank shells and heavy machine guns, our correspondent adds.
Speaking to Reuters news agency, Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida is quoted as saying: “This was our work, but was carried out for defence.”
Army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich described the killings of Israel soldiers as both “tragic” and “painful”.
“I think it’s true to say that this is one of the fiercest days we have had since operation Cast Lead happened,” she said, referring to Israel’s 22-day offensive.