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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Army Kills 12 Palestinians

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip -- Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Monday, including 10 who died when a helicopter missile hit a crowd, in a raid that sapped confidence for a new international peace effort.

Hospital officials in the Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis said all the dead were civilians and that another 80 Palestinians were wounded, including combatants brought in for treatment still carrying their assault weapons.

They said a child of about 12 was among those killed in Israel's helicopter-backed tank incursion into Khan Younis when the missile hit a group of people who had come out of their homes and gathered outside a mosque, thinking the raid was over.

The Israeli army said the aim of Monday's incursion was to hit the "terrorist infrastructure" of Hamas, which has spearheaded a two-year-old Palestinian uprising for independence and carried out a wave of suicide bombings.

It said the helicopter launched the missile at a source of fire directed at tanks withdrawing at the end of the operation. Palestinians denied any shooting before the missile struck.

The raid sapped an initiative by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on behalf of an international quartet of Middle East peace brokers to coax the sides away from violence.

Solana was due to meet Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Monday after talks with Israeli ministers on Sunday. Solana is pushing a peace plan outlined by the EU, United Nations, United States and Russian mediators calling for reform of the Palestinian Authority and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank cities reoccupied after Palestinian suicide bombings.

The raid looked likely to stir international condemnation, including in Washington.