Five Palestinian fighters were killed during an Israeli military incursion in the Gaza Strip on Friday, medics and Palestinian militants said, reducing confidence in a possible Egypt-mediated truce.
Five Palestinian fighters were killed and an Israeli soldier wounded on Friday as violence flared up again in the Gaza Strip despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce around the impoverished territory.
Three Palestinians were killed in an air strike called in support of Israeli ground operations near the city of Rafah, Palestinian emergency services said.
All three were members of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas, that rules the territory, said in a statement.
The gunmen were involved in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops who penetrated 1.5 kilometres (one mile) inside the Gaza Strip, witnesses said.
Seven Palestinians were wounded and Israeli forces seized 15 people whom they took with them across the border when they withdrew, medics and other witnesses said.
An Israeli military spokesman said the soldier was wounded when gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an armoured bulldozer.
In addition, two fighters of the Al Quds Brigade were killed near El Bureij in central Gaza, the Islamic Jihad's armed wing said.
The Israeli army said that troops stationed at the border shot two men who tried to place an explosive device, also in central Gaza, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.
Violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian groups has continued in the impoverished sliver of land despite attempts by Egypt to mediate a truce.
As its delegation returned from talks in Egypt on Thursday, Hamas gave no indication that any progress had been made and reiterated it would only agree to hold its fire if Israel first lifts its crippling blockade of Gaza.
Amos Gilad, a top aide of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to travel to Egypt on Sunday to continue discussions on the proposed truce, army radio reported.
The latest deaths brought to at least 483 the number of people killed since Israel and the Palestinian leadership relaunched peace talks at a US-hosted conference in November.
The vast majority of those killed were Gaza-based militants, according to an AFP count.
On Thursday a Palestinian man was killed when Israeli troops opened fire on stone-throwing demonstrators who marched towards the Karni border crossing point in protest against the Jewish state's crippling blockade of Gaza.
That incident came just hours after a militant died in a failed suicide truck bombing at Erez, the main border crossing between Israel and Gaza.
Israel closed all border crossings with Gaza following Thursday's attack, preventing aid trucks from entering the densely populated territory which is under a tight embargo Israeli officials say is aimed at forcing Hamas to end almost daily rocket and mortar attacks.
The United Nations condemned the failed suicide attack, saying it would seriously affect humanitarian operations in Gaza where a majority of the 1.5-million-strong population relies on foreign aid.
"Incidents of this kind are totally unacceptable. They also act against the interests of the population of the Gaza Strip, because aid workers and medical cases must pass through Erez," the spokesman for UN special envoy Robert Serry said on Thursday.
The Israeli military, meanwhile, said troops on Thursday found an anti-tank launcher and a number of missiles in the back yard of a school in a Gaza City suburb.
Date created : 2008-05-23