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Two Egyptian Children, Police Injured in Israeli Air Strike Near Gaza Border


Security officials say shrapnel from Israeli air strikes near the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip Sunday wounded two Egyptian police officers and two young children.

Officials did not elaborate on the extent of their injuries, but said they have been hospitalized.

While Rafah is the only official crossing between the Palestinian territory and Egypt, Hamas militants, as well as residents of Gaza, use networks of tunnels to smuggle supplies.

The Israeli military has targeted the tunnels in its air strikes.

At least 20 Palestinians died today as Israeli forces pushed deeper toward the heavily populated Gaza City, battling Hamas militants for the 16th straight day.

Medical officials in the Palestinian territory say many of those killed were civilians. But because of Israel's restrictive media access to Gaza, those figures are hard to confirm.

Israel says it is not targeting civilians, and it has accused Hamas gunmen of launching rockets from populated areas.

Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including 10 soldiers, along with three civilians hit by rocket fire.

Gaza medical officials say about 850 Palestinians have died in the Gaza Strip since Israel's military offensive began December 27. Officials estimate that half of those killed have been civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in his weekly Cabinet meeting today that the military is fulfilling its goals, but will continue the offensive against Hamas until militant rocket attacks on southern Israel stop.

Separately, an Israeli military spokesman said army reservists, held back until now, are being deployed to Gaza.

On Saturday, Israel's military issued a warning to residents of the Gaza Strip that it intends to intensify its offensive against Palestinian militants. Aircraft dropped leaflets warning that the Israeli army will continue attacking tunnels, weapons caches and terrorists with increasing force throughout the Gaza Strip.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking in Damascus Saturday, accused Israel of perpetrating a "holocaust" in the Gaza Strip. He said the Israeli offensive in Gaza has eliminated the possibility of lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world.

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

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