Israeli units Friday demolished three buildings in Gaza that Palestinian militants used to build Qassam rockets, hours after its tanks and bulldozers rolled into Gaza City and clashed with Palestinian militants.
The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Israeli engineering units backed by armored troops demolished three buildings in Gaza that contained 22 lathes where Palestinians manufactured the rockets.
The forces entered southern Gaza at about 1 a.m., headed for the buildings, blew them up and returned at about 3 a.m., a military source said. There was no fighting there, the army reported.
Earlier, Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled into the Zaytoon neighborhood of Gaza City and clashed with Palestinian militants, a Palestinian security statement said. Residents said tanks fired several shells at Palestinian houses. Four Palestinians were injured, they said.
A Palestinian security statement also said Israeli tanks and bulldozers supported by attack helicopters raided northern Gaza Strip and drove about one mile into the Palestinian-controlled area.
The military measures came after Palestinian militants fired dozens of mortars at Jewish settlements. No injuries were reported.
Islamic Hamas' armed wing, Izel Dein Al Qassam, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was to avenge the killing Monday in Gaza of the commander of the group's military wing, Salah Shehada. Seventeen others, including children, were killed in that attack.
The Israelis -- including the military -- have repeatedly expressed their regret over the innocent casualties.
Earlier Thursday, an Israeli rabbi and another man were ambushed near the settlement of Peduel in the West Bank. The rabbi, Elimeleh Shapira, 43, a father of eight, was killed and the man with him was wounded and treated under fire, settlers and the army spokesman said.
Israel meanwhile moved to ease economic pressure on the Palestinians. The United States has been pressing for such moves to help hungry Palestinians.
Israel said it would transfer to the new Palestinian finance minister, Fayyad Salam, about $15 million out of some $44 million in Palestinian funds it has been holding.
Israel is reportedly planning to also lift travel restrictions in the Gaza Strip, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho so that its residents can go back to work.
(Joshua Brilliant reported from Tel Aviv and Saud Abu Ramadan contributed from Gaza.)