By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 39 minutes ago
Israel said its troops were on a routine foray against Palestinian rocket squads when they came under fire from the militants about half a mile inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas said its fighters surprised an Israeli undercover unit.
Witnesses reported a heavy exchange of fire as Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved in, backed by air power.
As soldiers took up positions on rooftops, militants fought back by laying mines and firing small arms and mortars.
Two mortars landed on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing, which has been closed to most traffic since Hamas wrested control of Gaza last month, the army said. No one was hurt.
Hospital officials said six militants were killed in the clash. All belonged to Hamas, the group said, adding that the dead included its central Gaza field commander.
Two more Hamas militants were killed later Thursday in Israeli missile strikes targeting the same area, the army and hospital officials said. The fighting erupted near the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, a site of frequent clashes between Palestinian gunmen and the Israeli army.
Elsewhere along Gaza's northern border with Israel, Hamas officials said some 15 tanks and three bulldozers had moved into Palestinian farms and were leveling the land. The army said it had no such vehicles in the area.