Israeli army kills five militants in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli troops killed five Palestinian militants on Friday during raids into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, medical workers and a militant group said.

The violence comes as Egypt tries to mediate a truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

An Israeli air strike on gunmen east of Gaza’s southern city of Rafah killed three Hamas militants, medical workers said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed a strike had been carried out against militants who had fired an anti-tank missile at troops, moderately wounding a soldier.

Separately, the Islamic Jihad militant group said two of its fighters were killed by Israeli soldiers in the central Gaza Strip.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers fired at a group of gunmen who had tried to plant a bomb near Israel’s border fence with the Gaza Strip.

Heavy clashes erupted before dawn when Israeli troops entered an area known as Sufa in the southeastern part of the coastal enclave.

An Israeli army spokesman said troops had been operating in the area since Thursday evening and clashed with militants but he had no information about Palestinian casualties.

Medical workers said soldiers arrested about 30 Palestinians during the raid. The army said it was checking the report.

Israel frequently raids the costal territory in what it describes as an effort to curb cross-border rocket attacks.

The latest violence came a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a truck laden with four tonnes of explosives near an Israeli border crossing with the Gaza Strip, killing only himself.

Progress on Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce has been stalled by disagreement over the scope of the deal.

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri accused Israel of intensifying attacks against his group to force it to accept the truce deal.

“The Zionist enemy is shaping the future for either calm or war, and we are ready for all options,” Masri said.

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