Two Israelis killed as militants infiltrate border point

April 9th, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by admin  

Tel Aviv, April 9 (DPA) Palestinian militants infiltrated a crossing point on the Israel-Gaza Strip border Wednesday afternoon and fired mortars, killing two Israelis, authorities said. It was unclear how many militants had managed to infiltrate the Nahal Oz crossing, used mainly as an entry point for fuel deliveries to the salient.

Residents of the nearby Nahal Oz kibbutz were ordered to remain in their homes.

Soldiers and police were checking whether any of the infiltrators were still at large, the regional police commander told Israel Radio.

Earlier Wednesday, an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian militant were killed in a heavy gun battle near the southern Gaza Strip border with Israel, both sides reported.

The gun battle erupted after Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled some 800 metres into the southern Gaza Strip, into al-Qarara village, east of the city of Khan Younis near the border fence with Israel, at around 2:00 a.m., the residents said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the force entered to push back militants from the border fence area, from where they had been firing at Israeli soldiers patrolling the border. She said the army had also discovered a tunnel dug by militants in the area.

Militants opened machinegun fire and launched an anti-tank missile at the force, sparking the gun battle, while Israeli helicopter gunships fired twice from the air at groups of gunmen involved in the fighting, the military spokeswoman said.

She said one Israeli soldier was killed and two lightly injured. The troops took in for questioning 10 Palestinians, she said. The army had earlier imposed military censorship on his death until his relatives were informed.

The radical Islamic Hamas movement ruling Gaza identified the Palestinian fatality as Mohammed Shameia, 23, a member of its armed wing.

The Israeli special force withdrew after dawn.

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