Israeli army tanks and bulldozers invaded the Rafah crossing area in
Rafah city, south of the Gaza Strip and killed two civilians on
Wednesday at dawn.

Palestinian medical sources identified the two as Ashraf Al Mu'asher, 26, and Mohamed Abu Arar, 28. Both were moved to Abu Yousif Al Najar Hospital in Rafah.

The Israeli army invaded Rafah and advanced 700 meters inside the city and surrounded the Rafah border crossing that borders Egypt, trapping scores of Palestinian Athourity security officers inside the crossing.

Tanks opened their heavy machine guns and fired shells randomly at neighboring houses, killing the two. They also took five residents prisoner from the Abu Mo'amer family to an unknown location. Soldiers took over some houses in the invaded area, forced the families in one room and turned the roof into sniper posts, local sources reported.

The Israeli army has since increased its presence in Rafah. Currently the tanks and troops are taking positions in the Philadelphia area for the first time since the disengagement plan last year.

Medical sources reported that the death toll in Gaza for the past 24 hours has reached four; Israeli soldiers killed on Tuesday at night and on Wednesday night after midnight two Palestinian residents in Jabalia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip after being shot by army tanks that had invaded the area.

Today's military operation comes shortly after Amir Prirtz, the Israeli security minister announced that he gave orders to the army to conduct a wide scale military operation in the Gaza Strip.