Israeli troops and helicopter gunships operating inside Gaza Strip killed at least 10 Palestinian fighters on Thursday, medical workers and armed groups said. At least six of the fighters were killed during a thwarted attack on an Israeli military post near the border with central Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad said, according to Reuters.
The fighters were approaching the border fence when their vehicles came under helicopter fire. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that two vehicles in the area had been targeted.
Earlier it was reported that Israeli forces backed by tanks and bulldozers crossed into southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, a day after Israel's defense minister said a broad operation inside the territory was inevitable. Three Palestinian activists died and 12 people were hurt in the clash.
The sides provided conflicting reports of a deadly showdown in the southern town of Khan Younis.
The Israeli army said troops inside Gaza Strip opened fire at a group of gunmen who approached them, sparking an exchange of fire. On its part, Hamas said activists were targeted either by an Israeli tank shell or missile fire from the air. And Dr. Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian Health Ministry reported shrapnel wounds consistent with heavy artillery fire.
Ten fighters were among the wounded, Hamas said.
Meanwhile, undercover Israeli troops abducted a top Islamic Jihad member in the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday. An 11-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously wounded during the operation, local sources said. The boy was hit in the head by a rubber bullet.