The killings came as Israeli occupation soldiers stormed the camp in pre-dawn raids on Tuesday, claiming to be searching for subterranean smuggling tunnels from Egypt.

One of the victims has been identified as Ahmad al-Abid al-Najar, 32, who died from head injuries after being struck by shrapnel from a shell, according to the sources. 

Al-Najar, who worked as a policeman at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, lived in the town's refugee camp.

Earlier, Khamis Anwar al-Rahi, a 21-year-old member of the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement died of his injuries after being struck by shell fragments, the sources said.

Also, Ayid Najar, 24, Halil al-Kassas, 50, and Ali Majah, 22, died during exchanges of fire with Israeli troops during the attack by about 15 jeeps and armoured vehicles.

Civilians wounded

Four of those wounded are in a serious condition.

The body of a Palestinian killed
by Israeli soldiers lies in Rafah


 

"Israeli helicopters fired on a group of residents, seriously wounding two and severing their legs," Aljazeera's correspondent reported.

The correspondent added that a four-year-old Palestinian child was critically injured after being hit in the head by bullets fired by the Israeli military.

"Clashes between the forces and resistance fighters are still taking place in the camp," said the correspondent. 

Ambush

Earlier two Israeli occupation soldiers were killed in a resistance strike in central Gaza.

They were the first Israeli deaths in fighting in the occupied territories in a month. 

Two Palestinian factions, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad's military wing, Saraya al-Quds, claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers late on Monday.

A suspected resistance fighter was later shot andkilled.  

War crimes

In the past three years Israeli occupation forces have destroyed more than 800 Palestinian homes along the Egyptian border, south of Rafah.

Israeli authorities claim that this massive destruction is conducted for security reasons.

"We believe that the continued international silence serves only to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to
perpetrate more war crimes and other grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949"

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza

The Palestinian Centre For Human Rights (PCHR), a Gaza based agency, denies the Israeli claims.

"The facts on the ground strongly suggests that the Israeli occupying forces are establishing a large buffer zone along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

"All Palestinian structures along the border have been demolished and the land has been levelled by Israeli bulldozers", says the organisation.

"Furthermore, Israeli occupying forces have constructed cement sniper towers and an iron wall on Palestinian land inside the southern border", added a spokesperson.

The PCHR is calling on the international community to prevent the Israeli military from carrying out further attacks in Gaza.

"We believe that the continued international silence serves only to encourage Israel and its occupying forces to
perpetrate more war crimes and other grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949", the organisation
said in a statement.

Nablus

A Palestinian woman was wounded by shrapnel in the face near the village of Rujib, close to the West Bank city of Nablus, according to our correspondent. The woman has been named as Hanian Darwish abu Darwish, 40, who is believed to have been injured when trying to enter Nablus.

Meanwhile the invasion of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus is continuing into its seventh night. Occupation soldiers shot Shafiq Mahmud al-Rahman al-Saksak, 19, in the leg.

Occupation soldiers are reported to have invaded the village of Dair Aharaf, west of Nablus. Local people say that two houses were demolished by the army.

Curfews have been placed on the al-Dhahia district of Nablus, tear gas and sound bombs were used by occupation troops on the village of Kafar Qalil, south of Nablus.

Jenin

Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian man in the head late on Tuesday evening in the West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian medical and security sources have named the man as Iyad Alawni, 27, from the Jarba neighbourhood.

Witnesses say occupation soldiers arrived in a convoy of a dozen military jeeps and opened fire after being hit by stones.
Doctors at Jenin's general hospital described Alawni's state as "desperate".

The latest clashes highlight rising Middle East tensions, clouding efforts to revive a stalled US-backed peace "road map".