Israel has said it is sorry for the deaths of Egyptian troops killed during a shootout between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters.

Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, said on Saturday he has ordered a military investigation and a joint inquiry with the Egyptian army to clarify the circumstances of Friday's incident, when fighters from Gaza crossed into southern Israel through the Egyptian desert and launched a deadly attack that killed eight Israelis.

At least three Egyptian troops were killed in a subsequent shootout between Israeli soldiers pursuing the fighters along the Israeli-Egypt border.

Egypt said on Saturday it would recall its ambassador from Israel to protest the deaths.

Source: Agencies