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Palestinian Shot Dead Trying to Enter Jewish Settlement in Gaza

Israeli troops have shot dead a Palestinian militant attempting to infiltrate a Jewish settlement, and they destroyed Palestinian buildings that the Israelis say were being used to observe troop movements in the Gaza Strip. The demolitions forced the temporary evacuation of about 2,000 Palestinian residents.

The Israeli army said a fierce gun battle erupted early Sunday when a Palestinian approached the Jewish Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza with a rifle and hand grenades. Military officials said the attacker was killed the clash.

The attack was one of several launched against army outposts and Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip since Friday.

Israeli troops responded to the attacks on Sunday by destroying three partly-completed Palestinian high rise buildings near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim. Israel said the buildings were being used to observe troop movements.

Some 2,000 Palestinians were asked to vacate their homes in the surrounding area, while soldiers carried out the demolitions.

The action came in response to the killing of three soldiers at Netzarim on Friday by Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated the settlement.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad - two groups that frequently carry out suicide bombings and other terror attacks - claimed responsibility for the killings.

The announcement came after it was reported that the two organizations have recently agreed to join forces against Israel.

Israeli troops last week stepped up their campaign against Palestinian Islamic groups, launching a series of air strikes in the Gaza Strip, killing both militants and civilians.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which have both vowed to destroy Israel, pledged to respond by launching more violent attacks.