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Israeli Military Clashes With Palestinian Militants in Gaza


The Israeli military has killed four Palestinians and carried out its first airstrike in the Gaza Strip since the militant group Hamas took control of the territory last week.

The four Palestinians died in a clash Wednesday that seriously wounded one Israeli soldier in Gaza. Israel's military said it also carried out air strikes against two rocket launchers in Gaza, but it said no one was killed.

On the humanitarian front, Israeli officials say they will allow Gaza Strip Palestinians trapped at the Erez border crossing who need urgent medical treatment to enter Israel. Israel also has agreed to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza through the crossing.

The U.N. World Food Program sent nine more truckloads of aid into Gaza today.

In other developments, Israel opened contacts Wednesday with the new Palestinian prime minister. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Salam Fayyad that the formation of the new Palestinian government that does not include Hamas will allow for progress on various issues.

Israel refused contact with the Palestinian government headed by Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist organization. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led government after the militant group took control of Gaza in deadly clashes with Mr. Abbas's Fatah faction.

In Washington Tuesday, President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to bolster Mr. Abbas in his struggle with Hamas. His Fatah faction maintains control of the West Bank.

The Israeli military also said soldiers killed two Palestinian militants during a raid in the West Bank Wednesday. Also, 15 other wanted Palestinians were arrested overnight in the West Bank.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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