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Israel pulls its soldiers from Gaza after clash

JERUSALEM — Israel withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip Saturday after some of the fiercest gunbattles with Palestinian militants in the Hamas-run territory since last year's military offensive.

Israeli troops used bulldozers to "remove infrastructure used by terrorists to attack soldiers" before the early morning withdrawal, a military spokeswoman said.

Gaza militants, meanwhile, fired a rocket into southern Israel on Saturday, but no injuries were reported, the military said. Two others fell short of Israeli territory.

The violence began Friday when soldiers patrolling the border crossed into Gaza after spotting Palestinians planting explosives near the fence with Israel.

Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian militants were killed in the gunbattle, the military said. Palestinian medics said one civilian was killed and seven were wounded.

The violence underscored some of the challenges the United States faces as it tries to get Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track.

Senior Israeli Cabinet ministers, meanwhile, plan to meet today to draw up a response to President Barack Obama's demand for peace gestures toward the Palestinians, Israel's Channel 10 TV reported.

Israel pulls its soldiers from Gaza after clash 03/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 27, 2010 7:57pm]
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