Two Israeli soldiers were killed and four more wounded on Saturday morning after Gazan militants who had breached into Israeli territory opened fire on them.
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The killed soldiers are Sergeant Adar Bersano, 20, from Nahariya, and Major Amotz Greenberg (res.), 45, from Hod HaSharon. Two soldiers sustained moderate wounds and the other two were lightly wounded. All were rushed to Be'er Sheva's Soroka Hospital.
It is believed that a cell of four or five militants breached the Israeli border from the center of the Gaza Strip, near the Israeli community of Kissufim, and fired machine guns and an anti-tank missile at an Israel Defense Forces unit.
The IDF returned fire, killing one of the militants, and started in pursuit of the rest of the Palestinian cell. According to a senior IDF officer, the pursuit took place inside Israeli territory.
An Israeli aircraft then struck several other militants who were involved in the incident and who evidently managed to return to Gaza.
The IDF believes the Palestinian cell intended to carry out a major attack on an Israeli community.
Hamas' military arm, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement saying 12 militants infiltrated Israel and staged four ambushes over six hours. According to the group, they will exhibit M-16 assault rifles acquired in the incident.
A good kid
Amotz Greenberg, a father of three, was a lawyer by training, but worked as a detective at the Israel Securities Authority. "We've lost a dear friend, a loving family man, salt of the earth guy, killed in action against terrorists in the defense of Israel. We'll remember him forever," said the ISA Chairman Prof. Shmuel Hauser.
His good friend Yossi Keret said: "He was an amazing person, salt of the earth, and this is the most painful thing that ever happened to me."
Adar Bersano was survived by two parents, Gil and Lital, a 17-year-old brother and a 12-year-old sister, Or and Sahar.
"Adar was a good kid. He always took care of his friends before himself," his childhood friend Bar Shafes said. "He always cheered up everyone around him. The way he was plucked like this. I can't fathom it."
"He wanted to contribute to Israel. He said there's nothing to worry about and soon it will all be over and we'll meet again. He was a hero and he died a hero," he added.
Another friend, Israel Tetro, said: "He was a brave guy, a fighter. He loved the army and Israel. He was 'the man' in our group."
"He wanted the south to have calm again," he said.
Since midnight Saturday, two IDF officers were seriously wounded, three officers and a soldier were moderately wounded, and five soldiers were lightly wounded.
Prof. Ze'ev Rothstein, director of the Shiva Hospital, said: "Two wounded are hospitalized in the trauma department, and their condition is improving. The soldier who arrived in the morning was operated on, and his condition improved to moderate. Another soldier who arrived last night was also operated on and is also in moderate condition." Two other lightly wounded soldiers are hospitalized in Shiva, he said.