Jerusalem — Israeli soldiers crossed into the Gaza Strip early today and took up positions on rooftops in the southern Gaza border town of Abasan, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said.
As the soldiers moved into the area in the southern Gaza Strip, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, militants began firing at them, sparking gunbattles that wounded two militants, Palestinian officials said.
The army had no immediate comment.
The violence came as Israel continued its offensive in the Gaza Strip, which it began June 28, three days after Hamas-linked militants tunneled into Israel, attacked an Israeli army post and captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Israel said it would continue the offensive until Shalit was released and militants ceased firing rockets into Israel.
The army has routinely carried out nighttime raids into Gaza since the offensive began.
Israel has killed more than 200 Palestinians - most of them militants - since the offensive began two months ago. Palestinian officials fear that Israel, after battling Hezbollah guerrillas to a stalemate in Lebanon, now turn its attention back on Gaza.
Late Wednesday, an Israeli tank fired a shell at two men who approached Gaza's border fence with Israel near Abasan, according to Palestinian officials and the army.