Israeli troops swept into the central Gaza Strip early Tuesday, battling Palestinian gunmen and demolishing the home of a wanted militant.

Israeli soldiers thrust into the town of Deir Al-Balah and its refugee camp, backed by dozens of tanks and armored vehicles.

The troops destroyed the house of Mohammed Abu Huli, a member of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

The Israeli army holds Mr. Huli responsible for carrying out mortar attacks against Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

He is is also accused of dispatching a Hamas gunman who killed an Israeli soldier on Friday.

Palestinian residents say 17 people were left homeless by the demolition. The Israeli army says it found mortar bomb parts in the house.

The army often destroys homes of suspected Palestinian militants and the relatives of suicide bombers, saying such actions are aimed at deterring other Palestinians from attacking Israelis.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank village of Doha, Israeli troops arrested 34 Palestinians, including a senior member of the militant group Islamic Jihad.