Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday as tanks pushed into the area and took over a swath of land on the Gaza-Egypt border as well as the Rafah border terminal.
The two men, reportedly members of Hamas who had been attempting to push back the Israeli troops, had been approaching on the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt near Rafah according to press reports.
Occupation troops also took over the Rafah border terminal, leveled agricultural land near the border and carried out house-to-house searches as well. Troops took over the Rafah terminal, which had remained closed in recent months and under the control of the Palestinian presidential guard since the capture of Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Palestinians groups have threatened to reopen the crossing forcibly if it is not reopened soon. Palestinian sources also reported that Israeli troops operating in the northern part of the Strip killed a third Hamas member as well as a Palestinian civilian.
The offensive came one day after Israel launched the largest military operation in the Gaza Strip along the "Philadelphi Route" since having "withdrawn" from the region and removing Jewish settlements there over one year ago. Troops had begun operating on Tuesday following reports that of a tunnel used to smuggle weapons into the Strip from Egypt. A 12-meter deep tunnel and two tunnel pits were discovered during the operation.