Israeli troops killed seven Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip today, one of the bloodiest days of fighting during a four-month offensive.
The dead included a top militant involved in rocket attacks on Israel.
The attacks have prompted Palestinian calls for revenge.
Israeli tanks and troops moved into northern Gaza early today looking for militants preparing to fire rockets at Israel, the military said.
The Israeli forces encountered armed Palestinians and engaged them in a battle, killing seven and wounding at least 14, Palestinian hospital officials said.
The Popular Resistance Committees militant group said Ata Shimbari, leader of the PRC’s rocket-launching unit, was killed.
PRC spokesman Abu Abir vowed revenge. “This is the calm before the storm,” he told a news conference.
Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas denounced Israel for launching the raid at the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“It appears that the occupation is insisting on stealing the joy of the holiday from the Palestinians and committed this massacre,” Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza.