GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, AP – Six Palestinians were killed after Israeli tanks moved into the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza early Wednesday under cover of machine gun fire, the latest incursion in Israel’s three-week military push in the seaside territory.
In a separate army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus, at least three Palestinians were killed when the army surrounded a Palestinian prison where wanted militants were apparently hiding, Palestinian officials said.
In Mughazi, residents said 30 Israeli armored vehicles were in the camp by sunrise. Soldiers took over several rooftops as bulldozers leveled farmland. The Israeli military confirmed that an operation was in progress.
Palestinians said five militants were killed and five wounded in clashes. In two Israeli airstrikes after sunrise, one militant was killed and at least 13 more Palestinians were wounded, two critically, hospital officials said. Five Israeli soldiers were injured, two seriously, the military said.
Also, 14 people, including children, were wounded when tank shells hit two houses in the camp, hospital officials said. The Israeli army spokesman denied that any tank shells were fired in the area.
A total of 52 people were wounded in the incursion, the hospital officials said.
The camp, with 22,000 residents, is near the Gaza-Israel fence and across from the Palestinian town of Deir al-Balah. Israeli forces operated in the region late last week before withdrawing. Israeli troops have also swept through southern Gaza and carried out two invasions of northern Gaza, trying to stop militants from firing rockets at Israel.
In Nablus, three Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops surrounded Palestinian security headquarters, including a prison, where wanted militants were apparently hiding, said the office of governor Said Abu Ali. The forces raided Nablus before dawn, surrounding the compound and demanding that those inside surrender, witnesses said.
At least 107 Palestinian policemen were detained in the operation, Abu Ali’s office said.
The army confirmed it was operating in Nablus and said that troops had exchanged fire with gunmen and saw that they had hit some of the Palestinians. It was not clear how many were killed, the army said.
Israel began a large-scale operation in Gaza on June 28, three days after Hamas-linked militants tunneled under the border and attacked an Israeli army base at a Gaza crossing, killing two soldiers and capturing a third.
On Tuesday, a team of United Nations envoys met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City about the Israeli offensive in the territory.
“We hope the present crisis engulfing Gaza is to be overcome and we can come back to the situation where it is possible to pursue the objective of peace,” U.N. envoy Alvaro De Soto said after the meeting.
Palestinian officials said the U.N. team brought no offers of a deal to end the fighting to Abbas, who called for an immediate cease-fire.
“The only issue that President Abbas focused on was to find a way to stop this Israeli escalation on the ground,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. “This is the main topic, this is what we are looking for, apart from the humanitarian crisis which we suffer from.”
In a statement early Wednesday, the military said it opened two crossings into Gaza Tuesday to allow shipments of food and fuel. The statement said 145 food trucks entered Gaza through the Karni crossing, while almost 600,000 liters fuel and 175 tons of cooking gas were sent through the Nahal Oz crossing.
At the Rafah terminal, which connects Gaza to Egypt, European monitors said an estimated 3,000 people were expected to pass through its gates when it opens Wednesday.