A group of 60 would-be immigrants who landed early Monday on Italy's eastern Adriatic coast, have said they are Palestinians fleeing the Gaza Strip.

The group was intercepted some 60 kilometers north of the port of Bari after local residents spotted them on a beach and alerted police.

The group - all males - told officials they reached the Italian shoreline in groups of 10 aboard a dinghy from a larger vessel carrying around 100 people, the ANSA news agency said.

Authorities have transferred the group to a holding center in nearby Barletta where their identities are being certified.

In the past some migrants arriving in Italy illegally have claimed they are Palestinians in the hope qualifying for refugee status. In several cases they were later identified as Egyptians and repatriated.