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MID: Child first victim of Gaza tank battles: medics

04 Jan 2009 8:11 AM

GAZA CITY, Jan 3 AFP - A Palestinian child has been killed by Israeli tank fire and 11 other children have been wounded as Israeli forces battled with Hamas fighters after crossing into Gaza, emergency services say.

Israeli tanks and troops had late on Saturday pushed into two areas of northern Gaza, one near the Erez crossing and another east of the town of Jabaliya, near an Islamic cemetery.

Israeli tanks opened fire on Hamas positions after entering the impoverished territory and Hamas forces replied with mortar fire, witnesses told AFP.

They said there were explosions and tank fire just north of Jabaliya, where Palestinian militants were responding with rocket fire.

A Palestinian child was killed and 11 other children were wounded in the strike, when a tank shell hit a house in eastern Gaza City, Gaza medics said.

Explosions and shooting could be heard in many areas as troops backed by Apache helicopters forged into the territory, they said.

Militants fired mortars and detonated roadside bombs. The heaviest fighting was reported in and around Jabaliya.

Several people were reported injured but exact figures were hard to obtain, an AFP correspondent said.

Israeli ground troops launched an offensive a week after the start of air strikes which killed at least 460 Palestinians and caused widespread destruction.