Reports: IDF Shelling Kills 3 Palestinians Near Gaza Border

Incident comes as Gaza militants fire 3 mortar shells into the northern Negev; no injuries were reported.

An Israel Defense Forces shelling killed threePalestinians approaching the border between Israel and Gaza, Israel Radio reported on Sunday, as the number of violent incidents in recent weeks continues to increase.

IDF tank near Gaza border - Emil Salman
Emil Salman

Gaza medical workers and witnesses countered the Israel Radio report, claiming that the IDF shelling killed the Palestinians, with Hamas security and medical officials saying two of the Palestinian dead, in Beit Hanoun near the Israel-Gaza border, were farmers.

Earlier Sunday, Gaza militants fired three mortar shells at the northern Negev. No injuries or damges were reported.

The IDF Spokesman's Office stated in response that an "IDF unit spotted suspicious figures attempting to fire anti-tank missiles, at which point the soldiers returned fire."

The statement added that, in an earlier separate incident, Israeli soldiers identified suspicious figures attempting to approach the border fence between Israel and Gaza, with soldiers firing warning shots.

Last week Israel Air Force planes struck targets in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in retaliation to Palestinian militants firing a rocket from the territory into Israel.

The IDF confirmed at the time that its air force had attacked the coastal territory in response to a wave of security incidents over the last week.

The army said that it had struck smuggling tunnels used by militants planning to infiltrate Israel and commit terror acts against civilians soldiers.

The cross-border violence was the first since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington on Thursday to relaunch peace talks, and was a stark reminder of the obstacles both leaders face.

Early on Saturday, Gaza militants fired a rocket into southern Israel, causing no injuries, the Israeli military said.

Hours later, witnesses and Hamas security officials said Israeli aircraft fired rockets at targets in Gaza, including smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt.

Gaza security officials say one Palestinian was killed, one wounded and three are missing after the Israeli air strike. Hamas identified the five as smugglers working in a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border.

The Islamists of Hamas routed forces loyal to Abbas to take over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas rejects Abbas's peace moves and said on Thursday that 13 militant groups had agreed to work together to launch "more effective attacks" against Israel.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for two shooting attacks in the past week in the West Bank, where Abbas holds sway, including one that killed four Israelis.

In its response to the attacks last week, the IDF said that it viewed Hamas as a terrorist organization and would not tolerate any attempts against its citizens or troops.