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Israel Kills 6 in Gaza Military Incursion

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And we'll report next on an upsurge of Mideast violence. Israeli soldiers killed at least six armed Palestinians in raids in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was the first Israeli incursion deep inside the Gaza Strip since it withdrew settlers and troops last year. NPR's Linda Gradstein reports.

LINDA GRADSTEIN reporting:

Israeli Special Forces troops set up an ambush within the ruins of the evacuated Jewish settlement of Dugit in northern Gaza. When a group of Islamic Jihad gunmen arrived to try to fire rockets into Israel, the soldiers opened fire backed by a helicopter gunship. Palestinian officials said three of the dead were members of Islamic Jihad. They said a fourth man had rushed to the scene with medics to offer aid.

In a statement, Islamic Jihad said the fighters were firing rockets into Israel in retaliation for what it called continued Israeli crimes and the killing of a senior Islamic Jihad official in Lebanon on Friday. Israel says it was not behind that killing.

Today is the first time since the Gaza withdrawal last summer that the army has acknowledged a ground operation within Gaza. But Israeli military sources say a number of raids have been carried out without public notice. Israeli media said today's incursion shows a new Israeli determination to fight continued Kassam rocket fire on Israel.

Yesterday, Israeli artillery units fired some 270 shells into northern Gaza after Palestinians fired a mortar shell into an army base in the western Negev. In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed at least two Palestinian gunmen in separate incidents. Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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INSKEEP: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Linda Gradstein
Linda Gradstein has been the Israel correspondent for NPR since 1990. She is a member of the team that received the Overseas Press Club award for her coverage of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the team that received Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism for her coverage of the Gulf War. Linda spent 1998-9 as a Knight Journalist Fellow at Stanford University.