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Israelis kill 6 Palestinians in north Gaza clashes
Updated: 2004-07-08 13:36

Israeli troops killed six Palestinians, one of them a woman, during gun battles in the northern Gaza Strip early on Thursday, witnesses and medics said.

The overnight fighting occurred in the densely populated Beit Hanoun area where armored Israeli forces swept in 10 days ago to flush out militants who had fired makeshift rockets across the nearby border into an Israeli town, killing two people.

Israelis kill 6 Palestinians in north Gaza clashes
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is set to fire Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritsky on Sunday after he was exposed for trying to incriminate a party colleague in the run up to the primary elections. [AFP/File]
Medics said one of the bodies brought to a Beit Hanoun hospital was that of a woman in her 40s. The other dead were men, at least two from militant factions waging a revolt against Israel for almost four years.

An Israeli army spokesman said troops shot four armed militants who had opened fire on them. Reports that a woman was also killed were being checked, he said.

One Israeli soldier was severely wounded in the clashes and evacuated to an Israeli hospital, he said.

There were an undetermined number of wounded Palestinians, some of whom apparently lying in combat zones to which local ambulances could not get access, according to medics.

Israeli military sources said militants had opened fire on Israeli forces who had come across suspected firing points for Hamas men behind Qassam rocket volleys into Israel.

Army bulldozers have been razing shrubbery and cropland around Beit Hanoun over the past 10 days to deprive militants of cover from which they launch the crude, pipe-like rockets.

Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopters also swept into part of Khan Younis refugee camp in the south of Gaza overnight and bulldozed several buildings from which militants had targeted nearby Jewish settlements, an army spokesman said.

He said the buildings were uninhabited, while Palestinian witnesses reported that troops with loudspeakers were ordering families out of houses targeted for demolition.

At least three Palestinians were wounded during exchanges of fire before the Israelis pulled out later.

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