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    Death toll climbs as Israel continues Gaza offensive

    Israeli tanks have shelled a town in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three Palestinians and wounding 10 children, witnesses and medics said.

    The barrage of tank fire came as Israel's massive Gaza offensive to quell rocket attacks on Israeli border towns entered a seventh day, with up to 85 Palestinians killed.

    Three Israelis have also died.

    Medics said tank shells killed a 15-year-old Palestinian in one house and two men in another before dawn in the besieged town of Beit Lahiya.

    A shell also hit a house where a family was sleeping, wounding 10 children, several of them seriously, hospital officials said.

    Israeli military sources said forces fired at a group of gunmen who had launched an anti-tank rocket from a house.

    Israel began its campaign - the biggest and bloodiest raid in the Gaza Strip in four years of conflict - after a Hamas rocket strike killed two Israeli toddlers in a border town last Wednesday.

    Israel's Army killed the military chief of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in a Gaza City air strike on Tuesday night that drew vows of revenge and could complicate efforts to end the offensive.

    Hours later another helicopter missile killed two militants of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, and wounded four in the nearby refugee camp of Jabalya.

    --Reuters
 
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