Three Palestinians were killed after Israeli soldiers thwarted their attempt to breach the Gaza border fence and infiltrate Israel, the army said in a statement on Sunday.
The statement said that troops fired toward three militants who tried to cross the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, enter Israeli territory and damage what it described as "security infrastructure" near the fence.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry said that two Palestinians were killed in the incident, which took place near the city of Khan Yunis. It identified the two men as 23-year-old Abed Arhman Kadih and 20-year-old Mohammed Khaled Abu Rida.
The Israeli army said later on Sunday that a four-man terror cell arrived at the border fence in an attempt to breach it, infiltrate Israeli territory and carry out hostile terrorist activity. According to the military, the cell was under surveillance by the Israel Defense Forces when it was spotted moving in a suspicious manner. The cell members were seen damaging the fence, breaching it and crossing to the Israeli side. IDF troops then reached the scene and fired at the trespassers, killing three of them.
The army also stated that a bag carried by the Palestinians was found at the scene. Inside was a camera, an ax, an oxygen mask and gloves. Two bottles full of gasoline were also recovered.
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On Saturday Hamas' military wing blamed Israel for killing six of its men in an explosion in the central Gaza Strip. The Israeli military denied any involvement in the blast.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that three others were wounded in the explosion. The blast took place in Deir al-Balah, a city in the central Gaza Strip. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
The dead were identified as Taher Shahin, 29, Wissam Abu Mahrouk, 37, Musa Salman, 30, Mahmoud al-Ustaz, 34, Mahmoud al-Touashi, 27 and Mahmoud al-Qishawi, 27.
A Palestinian source told Haaretz that all signs pointed to a blast that resulted from the handling of explosives inside a building, and that there were signs that the casualties were operatives in Hamas' military wing.
One report said that the blast occurred during an attempt to defuse a missile or dud that had failed to explode during the 2014 Gaza war.
Hamas' military wing blamed Israel, saying in a statement that a "heinous crime has been committed against our fighters."
"The IDF is not involved in this incident in any way," an Israeli military spokesman said, Reuters reported.