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Hamas rockets kill 4 Israeli soldiers

Israeli army radio said at least 12 other people had been wounded in Hamas strike which hit close to Beeri kibbutz
Israeli ground forces move to the Gaza border in Beit Hanoun on 18 July (AA)

Four Israeli soldiers were killed when a mortar shell fired from Gaza struck southern Israel on Monday, the army said.

Media reports had initially identified the four as civilians.

The shell hit the Eshkol regional council which flanks Gaza's southern border with Israel.

Army radio said at least 12 other people had been wounded in the strike which hit close to Beeri kibbutz, some six kilometres (four miles) from the border, in an area close to Gaza City.

Hamas claimed responsibility early on for the shellfire.

"The Zionist enemy acknowledges that four of its soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in a Qassam shelling in Eshkol," said a statement from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

The United Nations had proposed a new 24-hour ceasefire that starts at 2:00pm on Monday, but Israel had rejected it.