Israeli Troops Kill 14 Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank Raids

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Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians on Wednesday in fighting and airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank city of Nablus as the army pressed forward with a wide-ranging offensive against Palestinian militants.

The raids were the latest in the three-week operation that began after Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier after tunneling from Gaza into Israel and attacking an army post. The fighting has persisted, even as Israel waged a second -- far more publicized -- battle with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon after they captured two more soldiers last week.

"We have a forgotten war in Gaza and the West Bank," Palestinian lawmaker Saeb Erekat said. "We urge the international community to offer direct intervention to stop this Israeli military escalation."

Under cover of machine gun fire, tanks moved into the Mughazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip early Wednesday, and took over several rooftops as bulldozers leveled farmland.

Fighting broke out and five militants were killed, Palestinians said. Another militant was killed in an airstrike in the camp after dawn, hospital officials said.

On Wednesday evening, violence continued in the camp of 22,000 people near the Israeli border, as military aircraft opened fire on a group of 20 gunmen as they approached nearby troops, the army said. One person was killed and 20 others were injured, hospital officials said.

The army launched several more airstrikes throughout the night Wednesday, killing a woman and a man, Palestinian security officials said. The army confirmed carrying out several airstrikes and said it was targeting militants in the area.

Nearly 80 Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli raid, hospital officials said.

The military said five Israeli soldiers were also injured, two seriously.

Also Wednesday, about 50 Israeli armored vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers, rolled into Nablus and demolished a Palestinian security compound and several other government buildings in what the army said was a raid to capture wanted militants involved with Hezbollah.

Three Palestinians were killed in fighting after troops surrounded the city's security headquarters. The army said the three men belonged to a cell that was activated by Hezbollah and was planning attacks on Israel. Another Palestinian died later Wednesday from his wounds, hospital officials said.

Witnesses and security officials said army bulldozers demolished a prison, and at least seven other structures housing the offices of different security branches, including military intelligence and national security forces.

Some 150 Palestinian policemen were detained for questioning, witnesses said. The army said the arrests were aimed at identifying who among the detainees were operatives of local militant groups.

Late Wednesday, the troops shot and killed a Palestinian during a clash with stonethrowers, Palestinian officials said. The army said it did not use live fire in the incident and had no record of any causalities.

Two journalists, including Wael Tanous, a correspondent for the Arab satellite station al-Jazeera, were injured in the clashes. Tanous, was hit in the left leg with a rubber bullet. Another reporter, Faten Ilwan, was hit in the waist and left hand with rubber bullets.

Al-Jazeera has accused Israel of targeting its crews during the current round of Mideast fighting, impeding their ability to cover the conflict.

Since Israel began its Gaza offensive on June 28, 100 Palestinians have been killed, not counting the nine killed in Gaza and five killed in Nablus on Wednesday, according to a U.N. report. Thirty of those killed were under the age of 18, the report said.

Militants have fired 177 homemade rockets toward Israel, while the army has fired over 600 shells into Gaza, and conducted 168 airstrikes, the report said.

Gaza also has suffered from a sporadic shortage of fresh food supplies and fuel since the offensive began June 28.

The military said Wednesday it opened two crossings into Gaza to allow shipments of food and fuel. The statement said 145 food trucks entered Gaza through the Karni crossing, while 132,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 24,000 gallons of gasoline and 175 tons of cooking gas were sent through a pipeline.

At the Rafah terminal, which connects Gaza to Egypt, European monitors had said an estimated 3,000 people were expected to pass through its gates when it opens Wednesday, but only 420 made the journey.