The dead from the early morning fighting on Thursday included resistance fighters from various groups, according to Aljazeera's correspondent.
 
Dr Mahmud al-Asali, head of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabalya refugee camp, told AFP four Palestinians killed were affiliated with the Fatah movement.
 
He named them as Yusuf al-Amin, Nasir Abu Khirdid, Zahir Abu Khirid and Naim al-Kafarin, all resistance fighters in their 20s.

The identity of the other five victims, one of which was a woman in her 40s, was not immediately available.

Two Israeli officers were also seriously wounded in the incident, the army said.

Medical access denied

At least seven other Palestinians were injured in the incident, although it was not immediately clear how badly they were hurt, Asali said.

The ongoing army operation is
taking a high Palestinian toll

But there was an undetermined number of wounded Palestinians, some of whom were apparently left lying in the streets as local ambulances could not get access, medics said.

Israeli army bulldozers have been razing houses, shrubbery and cropland around Bait Hanun over the past 10 days to deprive resistance fighters of cover.

Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopters also swept into part of Khan Yunis refugee camp in the south of Gaza overnight and bulldozed several buildings, an army spokesman said.

He said the buildings were uninhabited, while Palestinian witnesses reported that troops with loudspeakers were ordering families out of houses targeted for demolition.

At least three Palestinians were wounded during exchanges of fire before the Israelis pulled out later.

The latest violence brought the overall toll since the September 2000 outbreak of al-Aqsa Intifada to 4168, including 3172 Palestinians and 925 Israelis.

Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have been either injured or killed since the outset of the invasion, which Israeli army Minister Shaul Mofaz said would continue until a planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza by the end of 2005.

Other raids

Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops had also raided three cities in the northern West Bank.

Fighting broke out in Janin when around 30 Israeli army Jeeps pushed into the city centre and surrounded a number of buildings.

Loud explosions could be heard and clashes were reported in the old city. 

The Israelis also pushed into the north-western city of Qalqilya, with around 15 army Jeeps surrounding a house belonging to a member of the Hamas.

In Nablus, dozens of Israeli solders surrounded two buildings at the city's northern entrance, and in the nearby town of Bait Furiq, soldiers turned up in around 15 vehicles and began searching houses.