Israeli soldiers have entered the Gaza Strip for the first time since a ceasefire was agreed in November, killing at least one Palestinian fighter. Troops in tanks, bulldozers and jeeps moved 500m into farmland near the village of Beit Hanoun and clashed with Palestinians near the separation barrier, security sources said on Wednesday.

Islamic Jihad group said that soldiers had shot and killed Ramez Awad al-Zaanin, as he was trying to plant an explosive device in the path of oncoming tanks. A second fighter was wounded.

Israel said it had carried out a limited incursion after three Palestinians were seen trying to plant an explosive charge and said it immediately withdrew its soldiers afterwards.

“A unit operating on the Israeli side saw three men placing an explosive charge close to the fence,” a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

“The soldiers penetrated inside the area and exchanged fire with the militants, hitting two of them,” he added.

On Monday, Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, authorised the army to carry out limited operations in the Gaza Strip.

He told reporters that Israel would “not allow the continued strengthening and arming” of Palestinian groups.

Some fighters have continued to fire rockets into Israel from the territories despite the ceasefire agreement.

Source: Agencies


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