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Deadly clashes break out in Gaza

tank and armored vehicle
Israeli tanks and armor rolled into Beit Hanoun overnight.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A series of clashes Sunday in Gaza killed an Israeli soldier and several Palestinians, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Sunday.

The Israel Defense Forces said five men fired into an army post from the cemetery at the Khan Younis refugee camp, badly wounding the soldier. He received medical attention on the spot and was taken to a hospital where he died from his wounds, the military said.

In a separate incident at Khan Younis, Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops fired on a group of Palestinians throwing stones at them and killed one in the group. The IDF said Israeli forces fired when the Palestinians fired on them.

Earlier Sunday, Palestinian security forces said six Palestinians were killed and 25 were wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers operating in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.

The IDF acknowledged ongoing operations in Beit Hanoun and said soldiers detained four Palestinians for questioning. Three of the Palestinians are suspected of being members of Hamas and one is suspected of being a member of Islamic Jihad, the IDF said.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the Israeli operation as a "drastic escalation."

The IDF could not confirm the Palestinian reports of deaths and injuries at Beit Hanoun, but said Israeli forces shot and killed an armed Palestinian trying to infiltrate the Jewish settlement at Netzarim.

Palestinian security forces confirmed a Palestinian had been killed at Netzarim, but did not comment on the IDF report about an attempted infiltration.

The Palestinian security sources said three of the Palestinians killed in Beit Hanoun were members of the Palestinian National Forces and two were teenagers.

Israeli forces demolished four houses in Beit Hanoun belonging to Palestinian militants involved in shooting attacks and the planting of explosive devices targeted against Israeli civilians and soldiers in Gaza, the IDF said.

One Israeli soldier was wounded in a "heavy exchange of fire" with Palestinians, according to the military sources, who said the Palestinians had been firing upon and throwing grenades at the soldiers.

IDF troops were conducting searches and targeting workshops used to build rockets and mortar shells, the Israeli military sources said.

Palestinians said weapons were not produced in the workshops.

Israeli military sources said the soldiers were fighting "against the terrorist infrastructure in the city" and searching for ammunition, including Qassam rockets and mortar shells that radical Palestinian groups have used against Israelis.

"As of right now, there is a curfew ... all measures are being taken to prevent the firing of Qassam rockets and mortar shells," one Israeli military source said. Most of the rockets and mortar shells fired recently against Israelis have been launched from the Beit Hanoun area, the source said.

The source refused to say how long Israeli forces would remain in Beit Hanoun.

The operation came after an Israeli civilian was seriously wounded Wednesday when three Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza crashed into the southern Israeli town of Sderot, the IDF said.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz vowed to damage the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza after Izzedine al Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, acknowledged responsibility for destroying an Israeli army tank near the Israeli settlement of Dugit in Gaza.

Four soldiers died in the February 15 attack. Since then, at least 18 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli operations in Gaza, including the head of Izzedine al Qassam.

CNN Correspondent Kelly Wallace in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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