JERUSALEM, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel Sunday, hours after the Israeli military said it killed two Palestinians trying to plant bombs.
The Jerusalem Post did not report whether the Kassam rockets caused any damage.
The newspaper said Islamic Jihad's military wing said in a statement two of its members were killed in a shootout with Israeli forces near the security fence east of Khan Yunis and Israeli military sources confirmed the deaths.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, speaking on the second anniversary of the start of Operation Cast Lead, said he hoped the violence would not escalate.
"I hope there is not need for another operation such as Cast Lead," Shalom told Israel Radio.
"But if this situation continues, if rockets keep being smuggled in and they continue shooting at Israel in an attempt to hit innocent civilians, then obviously we will have to respond, and respond forcefully."
Soldiers spotted a group of armed Palestinians before dawn approaching the border fence and placing explosives and opened fire, the army said. A helicopter gunship was also deployed and fired at them, the army said.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza identified the two dead gunmen as Issa Abu Rock and Muhammed An-Najar, Ma'an News Agency said.
An exchange of gunfire was reported in the area in southern Gaza where the incident occurred prior to the gunmen's deaths, the agency said.
Earlier, Hamas' military wing Izzadin-al-Qassam said while the organization sought to maintain calm, it would respond to Israel's hostilities.
During a Saturday news conference to mark the Operation Cast Lead anniversary, an Israeli offensive in Gaza, Izzadin-al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida warned that Hamas had something in its possession that should concern Israel. He did not reveal further details.
Hamas admitted for the first time it was responsible for a spate of terror attacks from 2005 to 2010, in which 15 Israelis were killed and 47 injured. The attacks occurred in Hebron, Gush Etzion, Jerusalem's Old City as well as the 2008 terror attack on a Jerusalem Yeshiva in which eight Jewish religious students were killed.