Gunfire from Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, local medics said, during border clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a militant group, said its gunmen had confronted an Israeli force of four tanks and a bulldozer involved in a short-range incursion beyond Israel's border fence with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military officials said soldiers who were engaged in "routine activity" adjacent to the security fence came under attack from Palestinian militants and responded "by firing at suspicious locations."

Palestinian medics said the boy, aged 12, was hit by machinegun fire, either from Israeli helicopters or tanks that took part in the incident.

Israeli incursions into the enclave, run by the Islamist Hamas group, are usually aimed at searching for possible tunnels that could be used by militants to sneak into Israeli territory to wage attacks.

The incident broke nearly two weeks of a lull in violence between Gaza gunmen and Israeli forces since the last wave of fighting that killed several militants, mostly from Hamas.