Israeli soldiers stand near the southern Israel Gaza border. Picture: Tsafrir Abayov/AP

Jerusalem — The Israeli military says an officer was killed and another was moderately wounded during an operation in southeast Gaza Strip, involving an exchange of gunfire.

The early Monday statement followed a rare late-night burst of violence in which seven Palestinians were also killed. The flare-up came as Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers had appeared to be making progress toward ratcheting down months of border violence.

Israel's military later said the operation had ended.

Earlier, Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Israeli undercover forces in a civilian vehicle infiltrated 3 kilometres, about 2 miles, into Gaza on Sunday and fatally shot Nour el-Deen Baraka, its local commander in Khan Younis town.

An Israeli security officer examines the damage of a chicken coop after it was hit by a rocket fired from the southern Gaza Strip. Picture: Tsafrir Abayov/AP

It said militants discovered the car and chased it down, prompting Israeli airstrikes that killed "a number of people."

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Associated Press