"Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian militants were killed Friday in a gun battle in the Gaza Strip, heightening fears that violence in the region is returning to levels not seen for more than a year. The clash followed a recent uptick in Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israeli cities and towns, including one last week that killed a Thai farmworker. The fighting Friday caused Israel's first military deaths in Gaza since January 2009, shortly after it concluded a 22-day assault against Hamas, the militant group that controls the seaside enclave. ""This is a tragic and painful incident for us,"" Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibowitz said. ""In southern Israel we feel there is an everyday war."""