Palestinian witnesses say Israeli troops pushed into a border town in the southern Gaza Strip early Thursday, killing the brother of a top local Hamas leader.
The witnesses say the Israelis returned the fire of militants who opened fire on them. They also say soldiers arrested Hamas official Younis Abu Daqqa, the brother of the dead man.
The Israeli army has confirmed military activity in southern Gaza, but has given no other information.
Wednesday, a previously unknown Palestinian terror group claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Western journalists and demanded the United States release Muslim prisoners.
The group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades gave a 72 hour deadline for its demands to be met. It did not say what it would do if the United States refused to act.
The group released a videotape of the hostages -- American Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, of New Zealand. Both men work for Fox News. They appealed to friends and families to work for their release. Centanni said they are being well-treated.
A State Department spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos said the U.S. does not make concessions to terrorists and that the hostages should be freed immediately without conditions.
The journalists were seized in the Gaza Strip on August 14th. They had not been heard from until now.
Also Wednesday, Palestinian officials said Israeli soldiers shot and seriously wounded a top Islamic Jihad militant leader, Hossam Jaradat in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. The Israeli army had no immediate comment.