Two Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday during an incursion into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to stop a group of terrorists planting bombs along the security fence.
Army sources described the gun battle as the most intense clash in the area since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January of last year, when Israeli forces invaded Gaza in force to bring a halt to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel.
In Saturday's clash, Maj. Eliraz Peretz, 31, the commander of the incursion force, was killed when a terrorist bullet struck a grenade attached to his vest. The grenade exploded, killing Peretz and wounding two of his soldiers.
Peretz's brother, Lt. Uriel Peretz, was killed in 1998 during a battle with Hizballah forces in southern Lebanon.
At least four of the terrorist gunmen were killed before the Israeli force withdrew.
Later in the day, an Israeli armored force spotted another terrorist cell planting bombs and briefly entered Gaza to deal with perpetrators.