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At least one killed in shoot-out at Gaza border

Arab World Materials 13 April 2010 11:57 (UTC +04:00)
Israeli soldiers shot dead one Palestinian and wounded two others in a heavy exchange of fire Tuesday near the southern Gaza Strip border, officials at central Gaza's al-Aqsa hospital said.
At least one killed in shoot-out at Gaza border

Israeli soldiers shot dead one Palestinian and wounded two others in a heavy exchange of fire Tuesday near the southern Gaza Strip border, officials at central Gaza's al-Aqsa hospital said.

A military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said Israeli soldiers patrolling the Israeli side of the border spotted a group of militants who were planting explosives right near the southern Gaza Strip crossing of Kissufim, DPA reported.

She told the German Press Agency dpa the soldiers identified hitting "a number" of them.

They received air support from helicopter gunships and backing from an armoured brigade during the 5 am (0200 GMT) firefight, she said.

A Palestinian militant faction, the Islamic Jihad, identified the dead militant and the injured as members of its armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades.

The group said in a leaflet faxed to reporters that militants traded fire with an Israeli army force east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the south-central area of the coastal enclave.

The Islamic Jihad said the force, backed by an Israeli fighting helicopter, fired several shells at the area, with the militants shooting at the soldiers.

"Our militants had a fierce gunbattle with the army force which tried to storm the area," said the leaflet, claiming that "our militants managed to hurt a number of the soldiers."

The Israeli army however reported no injuries among its own troops.

Israel launched a devastating three-week offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, responding to years of near-daily rocket and mortar fire at its southern communities.

Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, many of them civilians, in the massive bombing and ground campaign against targets of the militant Hamas movement in the densely populated strip, according to rights groups. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

In the year following the offensive, both Hamas, which runs Gaza, and Israel largely observed an unofficial truce, but in recent weeks tensions have increased with a rising number of fatal incidents.

Observers have expressed some fears that the rise in violence could build up toward another major confrontation.

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