At least 12 Palestinians were killed and two Israeli soldiers were lightly injured on Wednesday in two separate Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. Some 40 Palestinians were wounded in the fighting. It was Israel's biggest raid in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over the territory two weeks ago, medical workers and residents said.
The operation reported in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis. According to Palestinian sources, Israeli forces battled Islamic Jihad activists near the town of Khan Younis, killing at least two and wounding four, medics said.
Near Gaza City, at least nine Palestinians were killed, including senior Islamic Jihad member, Raed Fanuna, a doctor said, according to Reuters. Seven more Palestinians were wounded near Gaza City. Palestinian witnesses also reported seeing an Israeli aircraft fire at least one missile into the area.
In addition, a 25-year-old Palestinian was killed in an explosion in the area. Earlier, Palestinian hospital officials said two men were killed in the same area by what appeared to be an Israeli tank or artillery shell. A Hamas radio station in the Gaza Strip said an Israeli aircraft attacked a vehicle east of the city, and Islamic Jihad said one of its men died in the blast.
Commenting on the raid, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday "we strongly condemn these criminal acts, either in Gaza or the West Bank. We are against violence in all its forms and also we are against launching rockets [at Israel]."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the incursion part of a "conspiracy in which Abbas is a participant and which is aimed at pressuring Hamas and the people of Gaza." Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal condemned the raid, accusing Israel of using Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip to try to justify "aggression against Palestinian civilians."
An Israeli army spokeswoman said an operation was underway near Khan Younis and there were reports of gunfire.
Earlier Wednesday, occupation troops wounded three Islamic Jihad members, one of them moderately, in the West Bank village of Burqin near Jenin, Israel Radio reported.