Reuters | June 11, 2008

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including a 9-year-old girl, in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Palestinian medical workers said.

Israel regularly sends ground and air forces on Gaza raids in what the military says is a necessary measure to try to stop cross-border rocket and mortar bomb attacks.

The medical workers said the girl’s remains were recovered from a house in the village of Qarara that was struck by tank fire.

During the Israeli operation, soldiers shot and killed a Hamas gunman and a civilian, the medical workers and Hamas officials said. Another Palestinian civilian was killed in an Israeli air strike.

An Israeli military spokesman said the ground attack, near the town of Khan Younis, targeted militants who had been attempting to launch rockets into Israel from a built-up area. The spokesman said he was unaware of any casualties.

The air strike, in the northern Gaza Strip, was launched against Palestinians who had been planning to fire mortar bombs at Israel, the military said.

The Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip a year ago when its fighters routed President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces. Egypt has been trying to broker a truce to end violence on the Israel-Gaza border.

Israel’s Security Cabinet decided on Wednesday to back the Egyptian mediation but said the army was told to prepare for possible military action if ceasefire efforts failed.

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