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3 Israeli Soldiers, 4 Hamas Militants Killed in Gaza Clashes

Three Israeli soldiers were killed and several others badly wounded in a clash with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. At least four Hamas militants were also killed in fighting in Gaza. VOA's Jim Teeple has details from our Jerusalem bureau.

The fighting was the heaviest in weeks between Israeli forces and militants of the Islamic group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The Israelis were killed near the Nahal Oz fuel terminal that straddles the Israel-Gaza border, and where two Israeli civilian workers were killed last week.

Major Avital Leibovich is a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces. She says Hamas militants are intentionally attacking locations where humanitarian supplies enter Gaza from Israel.

"Unfortunately, we suffered the loss of three soldiers in this activity early this morning," she said. "I definitely see this is another threat another intention of targeting either our civilians or the sources of humanitarian need - namely gas, medicine and food."

Israeli troops entered Gaza near the fuel terminal to attack positions used by Palestinian militants to fire rockets at Israel.

Abu Obeida a Hamas military commander says attacks against Israel will continue.

Obeida called Wednesday's fighting a Hamas "ambush" and warned that Israeli troops will face death, injury and kidnapping if they enter Gaza.

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants continued throughout the day - raising questions about whether Egyptian efforts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants will be suspended. Later in the day, Israel allowed the resumption of fuel deliveries through the Nahal Oz terminal. Fuel supplies had been suspended since last week's Hamas attack on the terminal.

Former President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to meet two senior Hamas leaders in Cairo, after ending his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Mr. Carter says he is on a private visit to the region and is not trying to negotiate between Israelis and Palestinians. He says he will meet later this week with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus - a move that has been criticized by Israeli officials.