Netanyahu defends Qatari cash infusion to Gaza

3 2017 shows a Palestinian woman preparing bread during the few hours of mains electricity supply they receive every day at Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip

Among the dead was a senior commander with the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Hamas military wing, Nur Barakeh, an alleged tunnels expert who also served as the commander of a Khan Younis regional battalion. Israel's Iron Dome system shot down at least two rockets, the military said. It was not immediately clear where the others had landed.

Israel stressed its operation was an intelligence-gathering mission and "not an assassination or abduction".

"I'm doing what I can, in coordination with the security establishment, to return quiet to the southern communities, but also to prevent a humanitarian crisis", Netanyahu said, referring to Israeli towns near the Gaza border and deteriorating conditions in the enclave.

An Israeli ground operation to kill or abduct militants inside the Gaza Strip would be rare.

It has also dismissed reports that Israeli operatives might have been captured by Hamas in a auto chase that followed the shooting.

The Islamic militant Hamas, which rules Gaza, said Israeli undercover forces entered the territory in a civilian vehicle late Sunday and exchanged fire with Hamas gunmen.

Palestinian security sources said the clash included Israeli air strikes.

Further details were unavailable due to an order by Israel's military censor.

Medics and Hamas officials said at least seven people were killed, four of them militants, including Hamas commander Mr Baraka. He was identified as Nour Baraka.

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One officer was killed and a second was wounded, it said.

IDF tweeted Sunday that an IDF officer was killed and an additional IDF officer was "moderately injured" after fire broke out in a special forces' "operational activity". Yesterday, following a ceremony to mark the centenary of the armistice ending World War One, Netanyahu attended a luncheon where he talked briefly with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, US President Donald Trump, and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel.

"Everyone knows where that money is going to go ultimately", said Netanyahu's agriculture minister, Uri Ariel.

Deadly clashes have accompanied the major protests along the Gaza-Israel border that began on March 30, generating fears of a new war between Hamas and the Jewish state.

An explosion is seen during Israeli air strikes in Gaza October 27, 2018.

Over 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the border protests, in which Palestinians throw rocks, burning tyres and grenades toward Israeli troops.

The money influx was 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 the Gaza Strip. It is the first instalment of $90m that Qatar has pledged to cover the salaries of thousands of unpaid Hamas employees for six months.

Hamas said the Israeli actions dealt a blow to Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between the Palestinian group and Israel and ease an Israeli blockade that has deepened economic hardship in Gaza.

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