Mahmud Khalaf Allah, 75, was killed early on Monday during an invasion in Khan Yunus refugee camp when soldiers razed his home while he was still inside, said Palestinian medical and security sources.

Shortly after midnight, Israeli troops began shelling the area and shooting indiscriminately at the civilian population, witnesses told Aljazeera.net Gaza correspondent Laila el-Haddad.

People began to flee their homes, and shortly afterwards, bulldozers made their way into the camp.  Khalaf Allah's family saw the bulldozers demolishing their neighbour's home, and went out to plead with occupation forces to stop.

"They came without warning people-they didn't give people a chance to leave.  [Khalaf Allah's] wife and daughter told them to stop, that there was a disabled person in the house, but they didn't listen. They continued with their demolition while he was trapped inside," said Palestinian Centre for Human Rights field worker Yasir Abd al-Ghafur.

Israel said it destroyed
'abandoned houses'

Israeli forces demolished over 31 houses during the raid.

An Israeli military spokesman said that the forces had destroyed some "abandoned houses" and vegetation in the area, which he claimed served as cover for Palestinian snipers.

West Bank invasion

Israeli forces also invaded a town near the occupied West Bank city of Janin, blowing up the home of a Palestinian activist wanted for a string of resistance attacks.

Troops demolished the house of Nasr Hidhjimiah, the leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the town of Kabatiyah, said witnesses and military sources.

Fifteen people were living in his two-storey house which was destroyed.

An Israeli military spokesman said the demolition sent a "message to terrorists and their accomplices, that there is a price to pay for their acts" and that the army would continue to hit them.

Since August 2002 the army has dynamited hundreds of houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A further 2000 homes have been razed "for security reasons" mainly in the Rafah area of the southern Gaza Strip, leaving thousands of civilians homeless.

The policy has been denounced by humanitarian organisations as a form of collective punishment.