GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians who tried to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the military said.
“Troops fired towards three suspects who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip and to damage security infrastructure in the area of the security fence,” the military said in a statement. “Two suspects were killed.”
Palestinian health officials said the two men had been killed by Israeli gunfire near the town of Khan Younis.
The area is near the border with Israel, where more than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in protests that began on March 30, dubbed by organisers as “The Great March of Return”.
I response to international criticism over its use of live fire in the demonstrations, the Israeli army says it is protecting its border and takes such action only when protesters, some hurling firebombs and trying to plant explosives, come too close.
Late on Saturday, an explosion killed six gunmen belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.
Hamas on Sunday blamed Israel and threatened a response. The Israeli military declined to comment on the blast.
“We hold the enemy directly responsible for this crime, and for previous crimes, and the Zionist enemy will pay a dear price,” said a statement issued by Hamas’s armed wing after the funeral marches on Sunday.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Kevin Liffey