On 23 January, three Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian gunmen near the Beit Haggai settlement outside Hebron. Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility. The area has been tense since 12 Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush there in November and the army took control of a Palestinian part of the city. Israeli forces responded to this latest attack by launching helicopter gunship raids in the Gaza Strip in what a spokesman said was a ‘counter-terrorism operation’.