April 1, 2008 / 6:23 AM / in 10 years

Israel kills two Palestinian militants in Gaza raid

(Adds details, background)

GAZA, April 1 (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed two Palestinian militants during a predawn raid in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Hamas Islamists and medical officials said.

Hamas said the two militants were the first from the Islamist group to be killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza in nearly a month.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops shot at two Palestinian militants who approached the force as they conducted a ground assault against what she called "terror infrastructure" in the Hamas-controlled territory.

Several others were taken for questioning, the army said.

The killings could challenge Egyptian-mediated efforts to broker a truce between the Jewish state and militant groups. Hamas has not claimed any cross-border rocket fire into Israeli towns since the beginning of March.

On Monday, an Israeli shot dead a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank whom the army said tried to stab Jewish settlers at a bus stop.

A Palestinian security source said the man killed was a civilian not affiliated with any militant group, and denied he attempted to attack Israelis.

The incident took place hours after Israel removed a West Bank checkpoint under a pledge to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ease restrictions on Palestinian travel in the occupied territory. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Avida Landau and Ori Lewis; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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