Israeli Tanks Roll Into Eastern Gaza

Jul 7, 9:42 PM (ET)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israeli tanks and troops clashed with militants in eastern Gaza early Saturday, Palestinian security officials said, as Israel moved to broaden an incursion to force the release of a captured soldier.

The Israeli forces, including some 15 tanks, entered eastern Gaza near the Karni commercial crossing, moving along the border just a quarter mile from the densely populated Shajaiyeh neighborhood, according to the Palestinian witnesses.

A short while later, the Israeli air force fired missiles at a group of militants gathered at the outskirts of Shajaiyeh, injuring at least two people, Palestinian security and hospital officials said.

Shajaiyeh, just 2 miles from Gaza City, was the scene of a fierce battle between soldiers and militants in May 2003, when 14 gunmen were killed in just 12 hours of fighting.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive almost two weeks ago, after Palestinian militants carried out a brazen cross-border attack on a military outpost, capturing a 19-year-old Israeli soldier. The military campaign is meant to get Cpl. Gilad Shalit released, and carve out a temporary buffer zone to halt Palestinian rocket fire.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army and no word of any casualties in the fighting.