Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians near the Gaza Strip border zone on Thursday, said Palestinian medics who recovered the bodies.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that the troops had opened fire after observeing the Palestinians approaching the security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip attempting to plant explosives.

A spokesman for the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine - a small group that only rarely carries out attacks - sent a text message to reporters identifying one of the men as a member of the group " killed during a mission carried out by our military wing."

The message from the spokesman, Abu Khaled, did not claim the other two men as members.

Palestinian identified the men who were killed as aged 20, 25 and 29, and said all three were unarmed fishermen.

Residents in the northern Gaza area where the bodies were found said they had heard gunfire in the area over the course of the night. No Palestinian militant group has yet claimed the casualties as members. Israel often clashes with militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza who fire rockets and mortars at its territory.

Approximately 100 different terror-related incidents took place near the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip during the 2010 calendar year, an average of one incident every three days, said the IDF spokesperson.

The last reported clash between IDF soldiers and Palestinian militants occurred a week ago Tuesday, when Israel Air Force jets carried out retaliatory air strikes in the territory after militants launched rockets into Israel.

The overnight air strikes lightly wounded eight Palestinians.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that those strikes were in response to the firing of five rockets and mortars into Israel. The military said aircraft targeted a tunnel and two other sites used by militants.