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Israel army: 4 targeted in Gaza were heavily armed

April 13, 2010 7:56 P.M. (Updated: April 15, 2010 12:15 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel's military said the bodies of two "heavily armed" Islamic Jihad operatives were found in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday, hours after they were killed in clashes near the Al-Bureij refugee camp.

"The IDF found explosive devices, assault rifles, hand grenades and additional weaponry on the bodies," the army announced in a statement that accompanied a photo of weapons it said were found at the scene.

Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, said its fighters were involved in fierce clashes with an Israeli military force that had attempted to cross the border. The group said its combatants hit their targets directly, while Israel denied that its forces were injured.

Medics at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah initially confirmed one dead and two injured, after witnesses said Israeli vehicles shelled the area while helicopters opened machine-gun fire.

Until late in the morning, ambulances were unable to access the area to evacuate the injured, medics alleged. By afternoon, however, emergency responders had reached the area and identified two slain.

In a prior statement, the Israeli military said its forces identified "a number of suspicious persons planting explosives along the security fence in the central Gaza Strip. The force fired at the suspects, and confirmed direct hits. Four militants were apparently killed and two injured as a result of the shooting."

It added: "The IDF operates defensively on both sides of the Gaza Strip security fence on a routine and daily basis, in order to locate and thwart terrorist efforts and to ensure the safety of Israeli residents in the area.

"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel and will continue to operate resolutely against anyone who uses terror against it. The IDF holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip and its surrounding area."
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