Israeli troops Monday shot and killed seven Palestinians, including a militant who led a rocket-launching operation, Palestinian officials and witnesses said.

Fourteen others were wounded in the attack on the first day of the three-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, officials said.

The Israeli army said it hit 10 militants on a mission to launch rockets at southern Israel. Palestinian security said the troops opened fire on a group of Palestinians.

Witnesses said at least six of the seven dead men were armed and opened fire on the Israelis because they mistakenly thought a rival clan was engaging them in a gunbattle.

The Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, said the target of the Israelis appeared to be Ata Shindari, who led the group's rocket-launching branch. Shindari and one of his brothers were killed in the Israeli attack, said Abu Abir, the group's spokesman.

Witnesses said Israel had tried several times in the past to kill Ata Shindari.

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