Israeli force moves into northern Gaza
GAZA, July 6 (Reuters) Israeli forces took over a belt of the northern Gaza Strip today after threatening to expand an offensive to curb rocket fire, Palestinian security sources said.
The area included three former Jewish settlements, demolished when Israel quit the Gaza Strip last year after 38 years of occupation. Militants often use the rubble-covered zone for firing rockets into Israel.
The Israeli army said that troops had begun moving into the northern Gaza Strip, but gave no further details.
Israel vowed yesterday to step up its incursion into the northern Gaza Strip after rockets fired from Gaza hit Ashkelon, a major city 12 km (7 miles) inside Israeli territory, the furthest the rockets have flown.
The rocket fire has compounded the crisis over the capture of a soldier in a cross-border raid on June 25 by militants from Gaza, including members of the governing Hamas Islamist movement.
Late yesterday, Israeli air strikes killed a Hamas gunman and a policeman in northern Gaza, bringing the death toll to 10 -- nearly all of them militants -- since Israel began its offensive.
Reuters DH VP0516