The Israeli military said Sunday that four soldiers were lightly wounded in fighting in northern Gaza.

The military said the soldiers were hurt during a brief incursion to destroy a rocket launching site and that the troops had returned to Israeli territory.

It is the first time that Israeli ground troops are known to have entered Gaza in the current offensive. The operation was carried out by special forces and did not appear to be the beginning of a broad ground offensive.

The raid occurred in the al-Sudaniya beach area in the northwest Gaza Strip, Haaretz reported on its Web site. It said that the Israeli force encountered Palestinian gunmen and a battle ensued which included the use of heavy arms. The Israeli newspaper reported that Palestinian sources said three fighters from the armed Islamist movement Hamas were killed.

The Israeli military said the raid targeted a compound from which long-range rockets were being fired, Haaretz reported. Four soldiers were lightly wounded in the raid and were taken to hospitals for treatment.