The IDF is reporting this (Monday) morning that Israeli naval forces spotted a cluster of men in diving suits off the coast of Gaza in the area we know as Nahal Aza, near Nuseirat. Palestinian sources are reported to have confirmed that four of them were killed. Al Jazeera says they were fishermen. The Jerusalem Post has a different version:
"Israeli Navy commando killed five armed Palestinian frogmen early Monday morning in the Nahal Aza area. The terrorists were wearing diving suits and were heavily armed, IDF spokesperson said. The terrorists were trying to swim to an Israeli city along the Mediterranean coast, when they were detected by the commandos and a firefight erupted. Five terrorists were killed and no commandos were hurt. The boat was making its way from Gaza, north to Israel. According to the IDF Spokesperson, the members of the terrorist cell had intended to carry out a terror attack in Israel."A Reuters report seems to back the not-fishing version: "An Israeli naval patrol has killed at least four Palestinian militants in diving gear off the Gaza coast, Hamas security officials and the Israeli army say. "An Israeli naval patrol spotted a boat with four men in diving suits on their way to carry out a terror attack and fired at them ... hitting them," an Israeli army spokesman said." Hamas security sources confirmed finding four bodies and said a fifth man was missing, presumed dead.
The BBC, with a powerful reputation to live up to, made its customary contribution: reporting from Ramallah, tens of kilometers inland from the coast and far from any of the evidence, the BBC's Jon Donnison, in Ramallah in the West Bank, wrote that "it is not yet clear exactly what has happened. But it is not uncommon for the Israeli navy to open fire on fishing boats it feels are too far out at sea." Bravo, Jon. Never let ignorance of the facts get in the way of a good dig.
Israel's naval nervousness stems from a long list of factors, including the recent launch of freedom-loving, exploding barrels despatched from Gaza by Islamic Jihad-ists (their claim for credit is here) and stopped just in time off the Ashkelon and Ashdod coasts several months ago. Some managed to get as far as the Netanya beach, north of Tel Aviv.