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A foreign worker from Thailand was killed Tuesday when a pair of mortar shells struck the hothouse of a settlement of the Gush Katif bloc in the Gaza Strip where she was working.

Two other Thai workers sustained light wounds in the shelling. All three were initially treated at the scene before being evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

The woman died of her wounds while being airlifted to the hospital.

A settlement in the northern Gaza Strip also came under mortar fire earlier in the day. There were no casualties and no damage was caused.

Also Tuesday evening, Palestinians said that a Palestinian policeman was killed and two others seriously wounded by IDF gunfire in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Medical officials said Samir Khafaja, 27, was walking in the street when IDF soldiers on the border with Egypt fatally shot him in the head and chest.

The IDF said that troops opened fire when they spotted suspicious figures crawling toward them near the border with Egypt.

Early Tuesday night, IDF special forces arrested Salah Ali, the military commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Ramallah. According to Israel Radio, Ali was lightly wounded by soldiers' gunfire when he tried to flee.

IDF demolishes homes in Gaza refugee campOn Tuesday morning, IDF troops moved into a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Strip, demolishing at least seven homes in an area that has been used to stage attacks on nearby settlements in recent days.

Palestinian officials said 10 tanks had moved into the Khan Yunis refugee camp. They said troops ordered residents out of their homes, and reported heavy exchanges of gunfire. No casualties were reported.

Military officials said the army was operating against "the terrorist infrastructure" in the area. They said militants have fired more than 25 mortar shells, rockets and anti-tank weapons at nearby Israeli targets in the past week, including a mortar barrage that wounded a child last Friday in the Neve Dekalim settlement.

A total of 13 mortar shells were fired at soldiers and settlements on Tuesday, the IDF said.

The IDF plan to intensify offensive operations in Gaza in the coming days, in response to Sunday's bombing of an outpost in Rafah, which killed five soldiers and wounded six.

The focus will be on striking at tunnel-digging cells, such as the one that destroyed the outpost, and Qassam-launching cells. Troops will also search for weapons caches. IDF sources said that the offensive would not focus only on Rafah, but on the entire Gaza Strip. The operations were approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Monday.

IDF tanks later rolled up to Gaza City's Shijaia neighbourhood, a stronghold of Islamic militant groups sworn to destroy Israel. Gunfire erupted between soldiers and militants who rushed to the scene.

"The message will be strong and clear that there will be no reprieve for terrorists," said one senior Israeli official.

Also Tuesday, IDF troops and civil administration officials sealed an office belonging to the Dawa Islamic trust in the West Bank town of Dura, southwest of Hebron.

The group was outlawed in June 2002, after suspicions arose it was financing families of suicide bombers and jailed militants affiliated with Hamas.