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MID: First major Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza City

06 Jan 2009 4:48 AM

GAZA CITY, Jan 5 AFP - Israeli troops and Hamas militants fought their first major battles in Gaza City on Monday night, military sources and witnesses said.

Large explosions and heavy exchanges of fire rocked Shejaiya neighbourhood of eastern Gaza City as Israel pressed its campaign to halt Hamas rocket attacks.

Hamas said in a statement that its fighters had fired missiles at seven tanks in the same district. The Islamic Jihad movement said several of its members were killed in the fighting.

Israeli military sources confirmed that troops were involved in heavy clashes in that area.

Flares lit up the skies over the blacked-out neighbourhood. Assault helicopters were also seen.