Dozens of tanks and armoured personnel carriers entered the
area last night, and could be seen taking up positions around Bait Hanun, Bait Lahiya and Jabalya and near the illegal settlements of Dugit and Eli Sinai under the cover of heavy fire, witnesses said.

Israeli Apache helicopters opened fire on the heavily populated Jabalya refugee camp and residential areas in the village of Bait Lahiya, injuring several bystanders, including two children, medical sources said.

Troops also destroyed the water well network in one of the beduin villages on the outskirts of Jabalya and heavy shelling could be heard throughout the night, echoing all the way to Gaza City.

A 22-year-old Palestinian fighter was killed during the invasion.

The village of Bait Hanun was sealed off by Israeli troops and declared a closed military zone, security sources said.

A woman from a settlement was
killed by a rocket on Friday

The Gaza Strip remains divided into three parts after Israeli armoured bulldozers sealed off the main coastal road connecting Gaza City from the central and southern Gaza Strips several days ago. 

Even pedestrian traffic had been halted when Israeli troops stationed in the nearby settlement of Netzarim took to shooting at Palestinian commuters, injuring three people.

Repeat operation

The Israeli army entered northern Gaza with the stated aim of stopping al-Qassam rocket fire into Israel.

It carried out a 37-day invasion of Bait Hanun last month with the same goal, placing the village under a complete closure. 

About 40 Palestinians were killed in the raid, and more than 100 injured.

In addition, thousands of hectares of farmland - an estimated 42,000 trees and other crops - were razed, leaving Gaza's traditional breadbasket little more than barren land.

A day before redeploying from the northern Gaza Strip village, Tel Aviv admitted they failed to prevent the short-range al-Qassam rockets from being fired.