GAZA (Reuters) - A Hamas militant was killed and another critically wounded by Israeli tank fire in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, medical sources said.

Clashes broke out in the area after a number of Israeli tanks crossed the border fence into the Gaza Strip in an area close to where Israel earlier in October uncovered a tunnel that militants had dug under the border, a Hamas source said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces were carrying out "a pinpoint action" in the area of the tunnel in the Gaza Strip but did not have further details.

Hamas said the Israeli tanks had entered the Gaza side of the border and had remained there for several hours and clashes erupted as militants fired mortar shells at the tanks. It added that an Israeli helicopter had also fired a rocket in the area.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election, from forces loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas. The movement is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

On October 13, Israel displayed what it called a Palestinian "terror tunnel" running into its territory from the Gaza Strip that it said militants had dug in the sandy soil with the aim of attacking Israelis. Hamas claimed responsibility for digging the tunnel.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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