Two Palestinians killed in new Israeli incursions

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Israeli troops and tanks moved into Palestinian areas at the northern and southern ends of the Gaza Strip before dawn Saturday. Two Palestinians were killed, dozens were injured, and several were arrested, Palestinians said.

The Israeli actions were similar to wide-ranging sweeps carried out yesterday in the West Bank and Gaza, in which eight Palestinians were killed and about 50 were arrested.

US envoy Anthony Zinni, who tried and failed to negotiate a truce deal in the past three weeks, left yesterday for Jordan and Egypt, and may go back to Washington.

In Gaza today, more than 15 Israeli tanks, accompanied by armored personnel carriers and jeeps, entered the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, next to the border with Israel, witnesses said.

The Israeli military, which described the area as a stronghold for the militant group Hamas, announced by loudspeaker that the town was under curfew. The military said its forces came under fire and shot back.

A Palestinian police car carrying five officers was hit by Israeli fire, leaving one dead and the other four injured, Palestinians said. About 40 Palestinians were injured, hospital doctors said.

The Israelis also demolished a house belonging to the founder of Hamas' military wing, Salah Shahed, though he was not in the area at the time, witnesses said.

The military said five Palestinians were arrested, while Palestinians put the number at 10.

At the southern end of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian militant carrying grenades attempted to cut a fence and enter the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, but was shot dead by the Israeli military, the army said.