JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Four Palestinians were killed Sunday as a result of fighting in the area of al-Breij, in central Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.
Palestinians leave an area in Gaza following clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops.
The fatalities included two women and a 17-year-old Palestinian member of Hamas, Hamas security and Palestinian medical sources said.
In addition, 15 Palestinians were wounded in the operation, which ended late Sunday when Israeli forces withdrew from the area, the sources said. Three of the wounded were reported to be in critical condition.
There were no details available about the fourth fatality.
Dozens more were arrested.
A spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the operation had ended and said they were checking the report of the casualties. She added that five IDF soldiers were wounded Sunday in the same area of Gaza when Palestinian militants fired anti-tank missiles at them in two separate incidents.
The spokeswoman said IDF forces were carrying out a routine operation against the "terrorist infrastructure."
The operation was aimed against militants firing rockets at Israeli troops in southern Israel, she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the weekly cabinet meeting that last Thursday's firing of long-range rockets that reached Ashkelon "was an escalation in terror activity." Ashkelon is an ancient Israeli seaport city in the western Negev desert region.
Olmert told the cabinet that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the security forces "to step up the Israeli response that has been harsh in the past weeks and has had substantial results in hitting main terror operatives in Gaza." E-mail to a friend
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