A spokeswoman said “the army opened fire after one of the terrorists scaled the barrier and hurled a grenade at the soldiers.”
No casualties were reported in Israeli ranks.
Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the four Palestinians were all wearing “uniforms” — without elaborating — and were equipped with food and a medical kit as well as the rifles.
“At this stage, we are still trying to determine why they had this medical kit with them,” he told reporters.
Conricus restated Israel’s longstanding position that it holds Gaza’s rulers Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, since they control it.
Hamas condemns killings
A Hamas statement condemned Israel’s killing of the four Palestinians as a “crime”.
But the Islamist rulers of the Palestinian enclave made no claim of responsibility and did not say if the four were members of its armed wing.
Palestinian sources said the four men all came from the village of Wadi al-Salqa, close to the Israeli border.
Palestinian demonstrations at the border demanding the lifting of Israel’s more than decade-old blockade have often led to violence and a deadly response from the Israeli army.
At least 301 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the border area since March 2018, the majority during the demonstrations.
Seven Israelis have also been killed.
The protests have declined in intensity in recent months following a truce brokered by UN officials and Egypt.
Under the truce, Israel agreed to take steps to ease aspects of its blockade in return for calm on the border.
Sporadic violence has continued but the Israeli army has said most of it has consisted of lone-wolf attacks.
On August 1, a Palestinian seeking to avenge his brother’s death by Israeli fire entered Israel from Gaza armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades. He was killed and three Israeli soldiers wounded, the army said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid a major flare-up in the Palestinian territories as Israel prepares for a snap general election on September 17, its second this year.
But he is likely to face political pressure to act firmly against any significant attack.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
The attack came as Palestinians prepare to mark Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
Israel is still conducting a manhunt in the occupied West Bank for the killers of an off-duty soldier whose body was found with multiple stab wounds on Thursday just 50 metres (yards) from the gates of the settlement where he lived.
His killing had already raised Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
“In response to multiple explosive devices that were hurled and exploded during Gaza riots near Israel’s border fence this evening, an IDF aircraft targeted two Hamas observation posts in the southern Gaza Strip,” a statement from the military read.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza.
The Gaza health ministry, however, announced the death of 24-year-old Habib al-Masri, who was wounded in clashes with the Israeli army. It gave no details on when he was wounded.
On Friday, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in separate border clashes.
And on Saturday, the Israeli army launched two separate airstrikes against groups of Palestinians in Gaza who had allegedly flown balloons rigged with explosives into Israel.
The Gaza health ministry said two Palestinians had been wounded.
At least 258 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since weekly border protests began nearly a year ago.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is calling for a mass turnout for border protests scheduled for the first anniversary of the demonstrations, on March 30.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from Gaza, controlled by the Islamist group since 2007.
They see the Eastern part of the disputed city as the capital of their future state and have said Washington’s pro-Israel bias meant the US could no longer be the main mediator in a stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
The council also discussed, at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia, Israel’s decision to withhold tax transfers from the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis.
“This is Palestinian money. They shouldn’t withhold it,” said the Kuwaiti ambassador.
Diplomats said the United States was a lone voice in defence of Israel at the closed-door council meeting, with the Europeans and others arguing that the payments should resume.
Greenblatt did not answer questions from reporters after the meeting.
Previous Israeli statements about her murder came only from top diplomats and politicians.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, accused the UN Security Council of staying silent in the face of what he charged was the complicity of the Palestinian Authority (PA) of president Mahmud Abbas in such attacks.
“The PA maintains its policy of paying salaries for terrorists and educating its youth with incitement, and a 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered in Israel,” he said.
“The Security Council has the responsibility and moral duty to make a clear condemnation of this barbaric murder and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in a statement on Friday evening that “the security forces will track down those responsible for this killing and we will treat them with the full force of the law.”
Netanyahu’s principal challenger in an April 9 general election, former armed forces chief of staff Benny Gantz, said he had full confidence in the ability of the security forces to arrest the killer.
The West Bank was hit by a bout of unrest in December as tensions eased in the Gaza Strip. but they later eased in the West Bank too.
The future of the West Bank is set to be one of the main issues of the Israeli election campaign.
Gantz, who is running on a centre-right ticket, has hinted that he may be ready to pull back from the territory as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners are campaigning for the unilateral annexation of large swathes of the Palestinian territory.
Some 650,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem.
The settlements are seen as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Turkey on Tuesday called on Israel to “immediately stop” strikes against the Gaza Strip, urging the international community to act as the escalation in violence threatened to descend into full-blown conflict.
“Israel must immediately stop its attacks against the Gaza population,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said, quoted by state news agency Anadolu.
“The international community, which stays silent in the face of Israel’s attacks, must take responsibility and take action,” he added.
Barrages of rocket and mortar fire into Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza this week have threatened a new war between the two sides.
Six Palestinians were killed in less than 24 hours as Israeli strikes targeted militants, while dozens of residents were injured in Israel following rockets and mortar rounds from the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian living in southern Israel was also killed.
The escalation, triggered by a secret operation by Israeli special forces which went awry on Sunday, came after months of tension with growing fears of a fourth conflict in 10 years between Israel and Hamas that governs the Gaza Strip.
As an unwavering supporter of Palestinians, Ankara often criticises Israeli policy, although relations improved between Turkey and Israel in 2016 after a diplomatic crisis that lasted several years.
Prince William flew into Jordan on Sunday at the launch of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He was greeted at Amman’s Marka military airport by Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, hosting William for the two-day visit in Jordan.
The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge’s Royal Air Force plane touched down at the small airport in eastern Amman, where he was given a red-carpet welcome by the heir to the Jordanian throne.
Royal guards carrying rifles fitted with bayonets and wearing Jordan’s traditional red-and-white chequered keffiyeh scarves stood to attention as the prince, in a dark suit, descended from the plane.
The visit by the second in line to the British throne has been billed as a chance to bond with 23-year-old Prince Hussein, a fellow graduate of Britain’s Royal Sandhurst Military Academy.
On Sunday evening, William attended a birthday party in honour of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose official 92nd birthday was celebrated on June 9, at the British ambassador’s residence.
“I greatly admire the resilience you in Jordan have shown in the face of the many security and humanitarian challenges that have confronted you as a result of conflicts in this region,” William said at the party.
“The way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, not to mention your longstanding commitments to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable,” he said.
“In so many ways, Jordan as an open and stable society is a beacon of hope for many other people in the Middle East.”
On Monday, William will visit the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, north of the capital, as well as a vocational training college for young Jordanians and Syrian refugees.
That evening, he will begin his history-making visit to the Jewish state and occupied West Bank during which he will meet both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Seeds of conflict
Kensington Palace has underlined the “non-political nature of His Royal Highness’s role — in common with all royal visits overseas”.
But the region is a minefield of sensitivities.
The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington’s embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.
Britain governed the region under a League of Nations mandate for almost three decades until Israel’s independence 70 years ago, and is still blamed by both sides for sowing the seeds of a conflict that continues to wrack the region.
Ahead of William’s arrival, the official schedule’s reference to east Jerusalem as “in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” sparked anger among right-wing Israeli politicians.
Official visits by British royals take place at the request of the UK government, but statements from the prince’s household have given little explanation for the timing of this trip.
Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.
Other members of William’s family — including his father Prince Charles — have made unofficial visits to Israel and east Jerusalem in the past.
During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of Britain’s role in the region.
In Jerusalem, he will stay at the King David hotel, which was Britain’s administrative headquarters during its rule of Palestine prior to Israeli statehood in 1948.
In 1946, militant Jews waging violent resistance against British rule bombed the building, killing and wounding scores of people, many of them British civil servants or military personnel.
Whilst in Jerusalem, William will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
He will also visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and pay tribute at the tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who has been honoured by Israel for sheltering Jews during World War II.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, he is to hold talks with Abbas and also meet Palestinian refugees and young people.
The Israeli army on Saturday wounded two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip attempting to launch incendiary balloons across the border into Israel, officials said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said an “aerial device” had fired at a group near the Gaza border that was launching “fire balloons” carrying flammable material into Israel.
Palestinian security sources said a drone had fired on people east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
Two people were wounded, according to Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry.
Some twenty fires were started Saturday by balloons and kites carrying flammable material from the enclave over the border fence and into Israel, Eli Cohen, spokesman for fire brigades in southern Israel, told AFP.
Since major border protests broke out on March 30, more than 300 fires have been recorded, he added.
At least 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire in the same time span.
No Israelis have been killed.
On Wednesday, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution condemning Israel for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians in Gaza — under Israeli siege for more than a decade.
Palestinians are calling to return to the homes their families fled or were forced from in 1948 during the war surrounding the creation of Israel.
Israel says any such return would mean the end of it as a Jewish state and accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using protesters as human shields.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and observe a tense ceasefire.
Israel cried foul Thursday after Argentina cancelled a football match with the Jewish state, worried that a strengthening cultural boycott could affect its hosting of the 2019 Eurovision song contest.
The World Cup warm-up match, planned for Saturday in Jerusalem, was called off Tuesday after a campaign by the Palestinians, with Israeli newspapers pointing fingers at Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who was behind the game’s relocation from the northern Israeli city of Haifa to the divided holy city.
An opinion piece in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper said Regev had scored an “own goal” after “imposing politics on sports”, and the centrist Yediot Aharonot featured a sick nine-year-old boy who broke out in tears when he learned he would not be accompanying Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi onto the pitch.
Politicians were quick to seize on the cancellation, with opposition leader Isaac Herzog telling public radio Thursday it was “a failure with Regev’s name on it”.
The Argentine Football Association said that with the World Cup beginning on June 14, the squad needed to “focus on what is really important”.
The Palestinians said the Argentinians pulled out of the match after they realised Israel was using its presence in Jerusalem for political gain.
Regev rejected the notion that moving the match brought about its cancellation, saying Messi and his family received threats over the game.
“Terror defeated him,” Regev told public radio on Thursday.
Unconfirmed reports in Israeli media spoke of a possible rescheduling of the game — again in Jerusalem — but officials feared the high-profile cancellation would cause long-term damage to the Jewish state’s international standing.
Rotem Kamer, head of the Israel Football Association, said Argentina cancelled the match because of pressure from Palestinians and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement — which leads a global campaign against Israel, targeting the country’s economy, art scene and sports.
“It’s inconceivable that teams won’t come here in official capacities,” Kamer told public radio.
“This is a red flag and we’ll have to see how it develops.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted by Israeli media accompanying him on a visit to London, said he was concerned “there could be pressure to cancel other events in other fields as well”.
Israel sees the BDS movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.
Several politically active musicians have called off shows in Israel in the past few years, including Lauryn Hill and Elvis Costello, with New Zealand singer Lorde pulling out of a Tel Aviv show in December.
Netanyahu did not specify which other events might face pressures, but when Israel won the Eurovision 2018 song contest — winning the Jewish state the right to host the contest next year — Regev said it would be held in Jerusalem.
Israel considers Jerusalem its “indivisible” capital, while Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city — occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed — as the capital of their future state.
US President Donald Trump’s recent transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked protests in the Gaza Strip in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.
On Thursday, Israeli officials involved in the song competition were cited by Haaretz as saying there was “unease” in the European Broadcasting Union about holding the contest in Jerusalem next year.
An EBU spokesperson told AFP on Thursday that the final decision on the location of next year’s contest would be made “by the host broadcaster in conjunction with the EBU and its members”.
Regev, meanwhile, has dug in her heels.
“If they try to relocate the Eurovision from Jerusalem, I’ll suggest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to invest the 50 million shekels ($14 million) and give up hosting the Eurovision in Israel,” she told Yediot Aharonot.