GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Two Palestinian civilians and three militants were killed Wednesday in Israeli military raids on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said. One was a 17-year-old riding his bike, doctors added.
At dawn Israeli troops pushed into southern Gaza to target rocket-launching squads, the army said. Two Palestinian militants were killed in airstrikes near the town of Khan Younis, Palestinian doctors said.
Hours later, Israeli tanks raided an area northeast of Gaza City in pursuit of militants who opened fire on troops near the border with Israel, the army said. Soldiers returned fire, killing the youth and another civilian, and one militant, Palestinian doctors said.
Israel frequently raids Gaza to try to stop militants from firing rockets and mortars at Israeli border communities. But the attacks occur almost daily, and two Israelis were killed in the past week. The fighting has clouded Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The violence Wednesday came hours before U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Israel for a three-day visit.