Palestinians, Hamas commander killed by Israeli army in southern Gaza Strip

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Israel's military had not confirmed those details nor described what type of operation it carried out.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Paris for World War I commemorations.

Hamas's armed wing alleged in a statement that an Israeli special forces team infiltrated near Khan Yunis in a civilian auto.

According to Palestinian sources, the Israeli unit was about 3km (2 miles) inside the Gaza Strip, which borders Israel, when militants from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, stopped the vehicle.

It is not yet clear what set off the clashes east of Khan Younis in the south of the territory, but it is understood they are ongoing.

Local witnesses also said Israeli planes fired over 20 missiles into open areas in the area where the incident took place.

Six of the Palestinians killed belonged to Hamas and the seventh was a member of the militant Popular Resistance Committees, AFP news agency cited Palestinian officials as saying.

The botched Israeli raid in Gaza the day before left seven Palestinian militants and an Israeli officer dead.

The spokesman, Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis, told Army Radio that covert missions were mounted frequently, comments that suggested the Israeli force may have been gathering intelligence.

"During an (Israeli) special forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved", the army said in a statement.

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What has happened since Sunday's operation?

A Hamas spokesman denounced a "cowardly Israeli attack".

Two Palestinians were killed on Monday afternoon as Israeli air strikes hit the Gaza Strip and scores of rockets were fired from the besieged enclave.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had opposed "transferring the money to Hamas". "The (Israeli) force, including Lieutenant-Colonel M., kept its cool, returned fire and evacuated itself together with the (help of the) air force back into Israel", Manelis said.

A spokesperson added that the strikes would intensify in the coming hours.

Chanting "revenge" and flanked by masked gunmen in camouflage, thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip on Monday buried seven Palestinian militants killed in an Israeli incursion as the ruling Hamas group launched a feverish security sweep across the territory. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group said two of the dead were its members.

Netanyahu has faced political pressure within Israel, including from opposition head Tzipi Livni, who called it the premier's "submission to Hamas", which would strengthen the Islamist movement.

The cash influx was also criticised by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which saw it as undermining reconciliation efforts with rivals Hamas and its attempts to return to power in Gaza.The cash transfer was the latest Qatari assistance to Gaza approved by Israel in recent weeks.

Multiple alarm sirens have sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel near the Gaza border.

Violence has flared regularly along the Israel-Gaza border since Palestinians began protests there on Mar 30 to demand rights to land lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its creation.

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