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4 Palestinians Killed as Israeli Troops Battle Militants in Gaza


Palestinian medical workers say four Palestinians have been killed in fighting between Israeli troops and militants in the Gaza Strip.

The fighting began when Israeli tanks and helicopters raided the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza before dawn Sunday.

Palestinian hospital staff say at least two civilians were among the dead, including a woman killed when a projectile struck a house. At least 25 Palestinians were wounded.

Israel's military says five soldiers also were wounded by anti-tank missiles that struck their vehicles.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the government has ordered the military to escalate raids against Gaza militants, after the militants fired a rocket deep into southern Israel last Thursday.

Palestinian officials based in the West Bank demanded that Israel stop the raids.

Despite the violence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to meet Mr. Olmert Tuesday to prepare for President George Bush's visit to the region. Mr. Bush will arrive in Israel Wednesday on a mission to encourage Mideast peace talks.

In another development, Palestinian officials say Israeli fuel cuts to Gaza will force residents there to live without electricity for eight hours a day beginning Sunday.

Israeli officials say the fuel cuts are a "stern message" to Gaza's Hamas rulers to stop daily rocket attacks on southern Israel. Israel has increased restrictions on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in June.

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

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