Two Israeli officers and six Palestinians were killed during an Israeli military incursion into the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday. About 20 other Palestinians were wounded.

The Israeli military said the raid was part of ongoing efforts to find and destroy arms smuggling tunnels in the region.

Earlier, the Israeli army said two Israeli officers and a Palestinian militant were also killed during a clash at Kissufim Junction in the central part of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Israeli police say they have arrested at least five Palestinians in connection with Monday's attack on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque.

Police officials would only say that the suspects are from East Jerusalem.

The attack came after Mr. Maher met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an effort to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Egytian foreign minister, who returned to Cairo late Monday, said the attack will not effect his "determination" to work for peace and the rights of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian government both condemned the attack.