Rocket Damages Negev House; Medics: IDF Kills Gaza Civilian

Hamas retracts claim IDF behind Gaza City camp blast; Qassam hits Negev kibbutz, causing damage to building.

Israel Defense Forces troops killed a Palestinian civilian near the border fence with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, medical officials said.

The officials said the 60-year-old farmer was shot dead riding on his donkey near the frontier fence east of Khan Younis in the central part of the Hamas-controlled territory.

An IDF spokeswoman said she was looking into the report.

A statement from the IDF spokesman's office earlier reported that a roadside charge was detonated as an army patrol passed along the border fence, also in the central Gaza area.

No injuries were reported in the blast and it was not clear if the two events were related.

In a separate incident, the Islamist group Hamas said two members of its armed wing were killed by an Israel Air Force strike on a training camp in Gaza City.

The group had blamed the blast on an Israel Air Force strike but later said there had been no attack.

Meanwhile, a smuggling tunnel under the Egypt-Gaza border collapsed, killing one man, doctors said. Residents said they believed another man was buried in the rubble. Palestinian smugglers use tunnels to bring everything from cigarettes to weapons into Gaza.

Also Thursday, a Qassam fired by militants in Gaza struck a western Negev kibbutz. No injuries were reported, but the rocket damaged a building.

Thursday's incidents occurred amid new signs that Israel is moving closer to a cease-fire with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel has eased overall in recent weeks as Egypt, with U.S. backing, pressed Hamas to stop its rocket fire into Israel and urged Israel to halt military strikes.

The truce efforts intensified after a fierce round of fighting that began in late February and killed more than 120 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, as well as three Israelis.

As part of the truce talks, Hamas wants Israel to reopen Gaza's border crossings. Hamas also wants to have some sort of presence at the crossings.

Defense officials have not ruled that out, as long as Israel is allowed to monitor the passages in some way as well.

During their talks on Wednesday, Israeli and Egyptian representatives agreed in principle to a deal that would have Egypt replace Israel as the Gaza Strip's sole electricity provider.

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha confirmed Wednesday the talks were under way with Egyptian mediators.

"As we have always said, the ball is in Israel's court," Taha said. "We cannot forget that.... Every single minute they are committing new aggressions against the Palestinians."