Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Rockets fired after Gaza clashes


Palestinians killed in Gaza raid

Hamas has fired multiple rockets into Israel hours after six fighters died during Israel's first major incursion into the Gaza Strip since June's truce.

Israel said 35 rockets and mortars were fired, but gave no word on casualties.

Troops had entered Gaza to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel dug by militants to abduct its troops.

One militant died in the gunfight, and a subsequent Israeli air strike on Hamas positions in southern Gaza killed at least five fighters, medics said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said three air strikes took place, targeting militants who had fired mortars and rockets at Israeli forces.

The fighting broke out on Tuesday evening as Israeli tanks and a bulldozer moved 250m into the central part of the coastal enclave, backed by military aircraft, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Ramallah.

Residents of central Gaza's el-Bureij refugee camp said a missile fired from an unmanned Israeli drone flying over the area injured another three Hamas gunmen.

'Harsh response'

A truce between the two sides had so far largely held since it was declared on 19 June, although according to the Israeli military dozens of rockets and missiles have been fired in the past four and a half months.

Israel said Tuesday's raid was not a violation of the ceasefire, but rather a legitimate step to remove an immediate threat.

Mary Robinson, file pic from August 2008

But the militant wing of Hamas said it would take revenge for what it said was an act of Israeli aggression that had violated the truce.

"Our response will be harsh, and the enemy will play a heavy price," the Islamist group said in a statement on its website.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control there in June 2007.

Israel said the blockade, under which it has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid into Gaza, was needed to isolate Hamas and stop it and other militants from firing rockets.

But a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said earlier she had been taken aback by the "terrible" conditions for the Gaza Strip's 1.4m residents during a recent visit.

Mary Robinson told the BBC it was "almost unbelievable" the world did not care about what she called "a shocking violation of so many human rights".

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