Israel Defense Forces soldiers clashed with Palestinian militants in the southeastern Gaza Strip near the border with Israel Friday, injuring at least two, witnesses said.

An IDF spokeswoman said Israeli soldiers were on a routine patrol along the border fence, northeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, when they identified a number of Palestinian militants who tried to place explosives near the fence.

The spokeswoman said the militants opened fire at the Israeli patrol, which returned fire and claimed to have hit one of them. She said the militants also fired at least three mortar shells at the Israeli force during the confrontation.

The latest clash comes after the sides made attempts over the past week to restore a fragile informal truce between Hamas and Israel, which has been thrown into doubt since a November 4 clash near the Gaza border with Israel that left at least five Hamas militants dead and sparked a new wave of rocket and mortar attacks at southern Israel.

Since Thursday last week, the rocket attacks had dropped again to an average of one a day, but this Thursday the number rose again to three rockets.

Israel had responded to the new wave of violence by slapping a near-total closure on Gaza, preventing all but the most basic humanitarian aid from entering the enclave. Also journalists have not been allowed into the strip for the past three weeks, with international media protesting the Israeli move as "unprecedented" and a "serious violation of press freed."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to keep the border closed again Friday, after three rockets landed in Israel Thursday.