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Israeli Soldier, Palestinian Killed in Gaza Border Firefight

A Palestinian militant from the Gaza Strip cut through a border security fence and slipped into Israel, sparking an exchange of fire in which he and an Israeli soldier were killed, officials said.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization claimed responsibility for the attack early today in an e-mailed statement, saying its gunman had sought to kidnap an Israeli soldier. Palestinians later fired two rockets into Israel and the Israeli Air Force struck a vehicle in southern Gaza, wounding four Palestinians, according to an Israeli army statement and Adham Abu Selmeya, a spokesman for the Hamas-run emergency services department.

The Palestinian gunman was spotted as he cut his way through the fence from Gaza into Israel when soldiers opened fire, the army said in an e-mailed statement. The army said in a separate statement that the airstrike was aimed at a squad of Palestinians that had fired at Israeli soldiers.

Palestinians militants have said they would seek to capture another Israeli soldier after the release last October of Gilad Shalit, who was held hostage for five years by Hamas after being abducted from his tank on the Gaza border. Israel freed more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are considered terrorist organizations by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.

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