Small Israeli force enters Gaza, 1 hurt-medics

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GAZA, Sep 15 (Reuters) One Palestinian was wounded when a small Israeli ground force clashed with militants in northern Gaza today and the army arrested nine Palestinians, medics and the army said.

An army spokesman said Israeli forces conducted routine activity against what it called terror threats in the north of the coastal enclave.

Militants in northern Gaza fired a rocket propelled grenade at troops and exchanged fire with soldiers, he said. Nine Palestinians were arrested.

Palestinian medics said a 17-year-old male was in serious condition after being shot in the stomach in northern Gaza. The army said it had no reports of injuries.

Local residents said a small group of armoured vehicles pushed into northern Gaza and bulldozed farm land. Residents said a small force also entered southern Gaza but the army said there was no activity in the area.

Tensions between the Jewish state and Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June, have increased sharply after a makeshift rocket fired into Israel by militants wounded at least 35 Israeli army conscripts this week.

The army frequently carries out operations in border areas to try to curb rocket attacks by militants in Gaza. Israel has so far opted against a major offensive in the territory but this week's rocket attack rekindled calls for tougher reprisals.

REUTERS GT AS1812

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