Palestinian sources: 14 dead in Gaza violence
Israelis meet resistance in Gaza raid
Israelis: Gaza raid a 'message'
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli forces raided two central Gaza refugee camps Sunday, killing at least 14 Palestinians -- including several boys -- and wounding about 50 others, according to Palestinian witnesses, security and medical sources.
The Israeli forces were met by heavy fire from Palestinians, shortly after entering Nusseirat and El Bureij camps early Sunday, the sources said.
Hamas said nine of the dead were members of the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group, and the rest were civilians, including three boys under age 14.
Hamas' military wing -- Izzedine al Qassam -- has claimed responsibility for attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Batsheva Genut accused Palestinian militants of using civilians as "human shields."
"If there are any civilian deaths, I personally and the government of Israel feel empathy and sympathy for those Palestinians, and I hope that Palestinian terrorists will stop using civilians as human shields," Genut said. "And I hope that Palestinian Authority will take finally the moral and strategic decision to dismantle infrastructure of terrorism."
The Israeli military has said it has been launching raids into Palestinian territories to target terrorists who may be planning attacks on Israelis.
Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Hakam Balaawi condemned the Israeli operation in Gaza as a "continuation of the cycle of violence."
"This Israeli escalation ... hinders all efforts to stabilize the region and prevents the resumption of the peace process, negotiations, and implementation of the international resolutions and the road map," Balaawi said in a statement, referring to the so-called "road map" to Mideast peace.
The plan calls for a cease-fire and other steps by both sides aimed at ending the conflict and establishing an independent Palestinian state by 2005.
The Israeli forces were targeted in Sunday's raids by massive gunfire and anti-tank missiles during the early morning raids, according to a statement from the Israeli army spokesman's office.
"They were operating on the outskirts of El Bureij refugee camp in a pinpointed operation against the terrorist infrastructure in central Gaza, which frequently fire mortar shells and activate explosive devices against Israeli military and civilian targets," the statement said.
Israeli forces pulled out of the area around noon, according to the Israeli army.
The forces had been operating in the central Gaza camps since early Sunday, the Palestinian sources said.
Calls encouraging Palestinians to resist were heard over loud speakers at mosques.
The raids come a day after Palestinian militants attempted to infiltrate the Israeli side of the massive Erez industrial region. Four militants and two Palestinian police died Saturday in the three-vehicle assault at the Erez border crossing between northern Gaza and Israel. (Full story)