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Israelis foil ambush in Gaza

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinian gunmen trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in central Gaza early Monday, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said.

In a joint declaration, three main Palestinian militant groups -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- claimed responsibility for the attack.

All three groups are designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

Two fighters were killed in the gunbattle, which lasted 30 minutes, the statement said.

A third attacker escaped, the groups said in flyers distributed through Gaza City. He was identified as a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

According to the IDF spokeswoman, the militants were trying to infiltrate the settlement of Netzarim in northern Gaza.

She said Israeli troops were ambushed near the settlement's greenhouses, "identified one of the armed terrorists near the greenhouses' fence, opened fire at him and killed him."

An IDF statement said an IDF force at a western post in the settlement spotted more militants at the same time.

"The terrorists opened fire and threw hand grenades at the post. The soldiers in the post returned fire at the terrorists, and managed to kill one of them and injure another," the statement said.

The IDF statement said several mortar shells were fired at the settlement during the attack but caused no damage or injuries.


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