Image: Palestinian pallbearers
Abid Katib  /  Getty Images
Palestinians carry the body of a militant to a hospital after Tuesday's clash between Israeli forces and suspected extremists in Gaza.
updated 8/14/2007 7:24:40 PM ET 2007-08-14T23:24:40

Israeli aircraft attacked Islamic militants in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday and ground troops clashed with fighters in a daylong raid against suspected extremists.

Four fighters and two civilians died in the clashes and 26 people were wounded, including at least five civilians, Palestinian medical officials and militant factions said. Israel’s army said its soldiers arrested some 100 militants before withdrawing.

Separately, two security officers for Gaza’s Hamas rulers were reported killed in fierce fighting with a powerful Palestinian clan linked to the kidnapping of British journalist Alan Johnston earlier this year.

Factional violence has been largely eradicated in Gaza since Hamas militiamen wrested control of the coastal strip from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement in mid-June, but there have been occasional flare-ups.

After Hamas seized Gaza, Abbas expelled the militant Islamic group from the Palestinian coalition government and formed an administration of moderates based in the West Bank that the U.S. and other Western nations hope can make peace with Israel.

U.S. peace summit looms
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the agency’s third-highest diplomat, Undersecretary of State Nick Burns, would meet with top Israeli and Palestinian officials during a three-day visit beginning Wednesday.

He said Burns would push for progress toward establishing a “political horizon” for the Palestinian people — diplomatic shorthand for the outlines of an independent Palestinian state that will be a major focus of an international meeting the U.S. has proposed for this fall.

McCormack had no comment on the clashes in Gaza.

Hamas said one of its men died in a pre-dawn Israeli airstrike east of the town of Khan Younis. A second fighter and his 70-year-old mother were killed when Israeli soldiers fired at their house, Hamas said.

Palestinian medical officials said a second civilian was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers when he went out on the roof of his house during a firefight with militants. Israel’s military said troops shot a gunman.

The militant group Islamic Jihad said two of its fighters were killed by an afternoon airstrike as they got out of a car. Israel confirmed the airstrike but gave no information about its target.

Nearly 100 arrested
The army announced late in the day that the operation had ended, with about 100 Gazans arrested.

The military often carries out raids in Gaza to target militants and thwart the firing of rockets at southern Israeli towns. Palestinians fired a rocket from northern Gaza toward Israel in the morning, but no injuries or damage were reported, the army said.

In the Palestinian infighting, Hamas security men and members of the Doghmush clan traded rifle and grenade fire west of Gaza City. Hamas said only that its forces came under fire while on a mission. The clan said fighting began when Hamas tried to arrest a clansman.

The Doghmushes have ties to the Army of Islam, a shadowy group that held the BBC’s Johnston for four months before releasing him in July. The group also was involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who remains in captivity.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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