Palestinian officials say Israeli troops have killed at least seven Palestinians and wounded 20 other people in the Gaza Strip.

Security officials say the violence erupted early Monday in the town of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.

Witnesses say the Israelis appeared to be looking for a member of the militant Popular Resistance Committees.

The Israeli army said troops opened fire on Palestinian militants in the area attempting to launch rockets at southern Israel.

In other news, the leader of a hard-line Israeli party says he has decided to join the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, said he agreed to join the goverment, giving it 78 seats in the 120-member parliament.

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