4 Palestinians killed in Israeli clash
( AP ) - Four Palestinian militants were killed in fighting with Israeli troops Thursday in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas officials said.
The Israeli army said its troops fired from the ground and the air as the militants approached Israeli forces. The clash occurred during a routine mission less than a mile inside Palestinian territory, the army said. The army said it has been conducting similar patrols in recent days in search of rocket launching locations.
Hamas said the fighting broke out near the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. Israeli-Palestinian clashes are frequent in the area.
Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida said its fighters discovered an undercover Israeli unit and opened fire. Hospital officials confirmed four dead and said at least four others were wounded. Hamas said its field commander in central Gaza was among four Hamas militants killed.
Both sides took up positions in the area, the Israelis in tanks and bulldozers and the Palestinians on rooftops, witnesses said.
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, a Palestinian Health Ministry official in Gaza, said Israeli troops stopped a Palestinian ambulance dispatched to the scene, detaining its driver and a nurse. The army denied the charge, saying only one ambulance was near the fighting and was allowed to operate freely.