At least seven Palestinian militants have been killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli air strike. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem hundreds of Palestinians stranded in Egypt after their Haj pilgrimage began returning home, after Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza.

Israeli authorities say they launched a combined ground and air attack against militants in the northern Gaza Strip after the militants fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli troops in the area.

The armed wing of Hamas threatened retaliation for the attack. Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel radio that Israel's policy of targeted strikes against militants in Gaza is working.

Barak says while Palestinian rocket fire against southern Israel is continuing, Israel's policy of carrying out targeted strikes and raids against the militants is having an impact. He says Israel has no plans to launch a large-scale military operation in Gaza.

Barak spoke as Gazans returning from the annual Haj pilgrimage began going home, after Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza. About 3,000 Palestinians had been stranded at the border, after Egypt initially said they would have to pass through an Israeli crossing point, to return to Gaza.

Israeli officials said they objected to the Egyptian decision to open the border crossing because among the pilgrims were a number of senior Hamas officials carrying large amounts of cash.

Israeli officials have accused Egypt of lax security at the border, saying Egyptian officials have not done enough to stop smuggling into Gaza from Egypt. Egyptian officials have strongly rejected the Israeli claims.