Israeli sources reported on Wednesday afternoon that the Israeli air force fired missiles at a group of fighters “preparing to fire Qassam homemade shells into Israel from the northern part of the Gaza Strip”; four fighters were injured, two seriously.According to army reports, soldiers identified fighters gathering near the evacuated settlement of Dugit, along the Gaza beach, and fired at them after noticing that they were preparing for firing homemade shells, Israeli news reported..

This is the first Israeli military strike in the Gaza Strip for several months.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Radio reported that Palestinian fighters fired seven homemade shells from the Gaza Strip into adjacent Israeli areas on Wednesday; two of the shells landed in open areas near Ashkelon, no injuries were reported.

The radio added that a shell fired from Gaza apparently landed on Palestinian areas, while a fourth shell hit an agricultural field in the Western Negev, and it remained unclear where the other shells landed, the Ynetnews added.

Israel announced that it would halt all of its operations in the Gaza Strip as part of a cease-fire deal with the Palestinians in November 2006.

But several weeks later, the army changed the rules and said that soldiers would target “any militant who is clearly identified as attempting to fire shells”, according to the army.