Israelis 'kill Hamas commander' in Gaza exchange of fire

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Netanyahu Approves Qatari Salary Deal as 'Right Step' to Avoid Gaza Collapse

A fresh wave of fighting has erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least six militants dead just as Israel and Hamas had appeared to be making progress toward ratcheting down months of border violence.

Tensions between Israel and Hamas have soared in recent months.

Lieutenant Colonel M., who was killed was praised by leaders and IDF heads for his heroism on Sunday night with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot saying that "the IDF owes Lt. Col. M. more than we can say."

The two sides then began an exchange of fire. Gaza militants have rockets capable of reaching into the Israeli heartland, where Ben-Gurion International Airport is located.

Nour Baraka, a local Hamas leader, was "assassinated", the statement said. One Israeli soldier has been killed. Witnesses in the area reported Israeli military jets pounding targets as they aided in extracting the soldiers.

Gaza's health ministry said seven Palestinians were killed.

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It is worth noting that Hamas field commander Nobr Baraka embraced martyrdom as a result of the clashes which claimed one of the Israeli officers and injured one another. Menalis said that despite being injured, he had been instrumental in ensuring the safe return of the undercover unit.

Netanyahu's office said he cut short a visit to Paris because of the flare-up and he was set to arrive back in Israel on Monday morning.

Menalis said such covert operations into Palestinian territory happened regularly.

The BBC's Tom Bateman in Jerusalem says that according to a former Israeli general, the incident was likely to have been an intelligence gathering operation that went wrong. The force and IAF (Israel Air Force) troops fought a courageous battle calmly and heroically.

Netanyahu told reporters that it was "the right step" at the moment and that he was committed to restoring quiet along the Israel-Gaza frontier and preventing a humanitarian crisis in the coastal Palestinian territory.

At least 227 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, since the demonstrations began, while others died in tank fire or air strikes.

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Six other Palestinians were also wounded in the assault.

In southern Israel, interceptor missiles streaked through the sky and sirens sounded during what the military said were more than 80 rocket salvoes from Gaza.

In Gaza, the sky lit up with outgoing rocket fire.

Netanyahu has come under criticism from members of his right-wing government for his decision to allow Qatar to provide money to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to pay for salaries and fuel to ease an electricity crisis.

Daniel J Levy, founding director of the Ortakoy Security Group, told TPS that Hamas, and in particular its leader Yahya Sinwar, "are in a particularly hard position". "Israel will allow the flow of Qatari funds into the Gaza Strip, allow humanitarian projects carried out by worldwide institutions and permit fishing to reach 12 nautical miles".

While Netanyahu has sought to avoid a large-scale military offensive in Gaza, the comments from his rival ministers signal that he is under pressure domestically for being soft on Hamas.

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