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Gaza teen dies after being shot on Israel border: Ministry

Israeli forces claimed two Palestinians had been attempting to breach the Gaza border
Palestinian protesters demonstrate along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Younis (AFP)

A Palestinian teenager died on Thursday after being hit by Israeli tank fire on the Gaza border, the besieged strip's health ministry said.

Abdel Fattah Abu Azoum, 17, was hit in the head earlier in the day near Rafah in southern Gaza, the ministry said.

The Israeli army said he and a companion were seeking to breach the border.

"Troops identified two terrorists who were crawling towards the security fence in an attempt to cross it from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel," it said in a statement, adding that a tank then fired upon them.

The army alleged firebombs had been found at the scene.

Palestinian witnesses confirmed the two were seeking to breach the border.

Palestinian medics said the other escaped with minor injuries.

On Tuesday, the Israeli air force claimed that it targeted a vehicle in Gaza that had launched "explosive balloons" and kites towards southern Israel.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Israeli army alleged the vehicle belonged to a high-ranking Hamas commander.

Late on Tuesday, an Israeli air strike and tank fire had also targeted a vehicle belonging to a Hamas official, said the statement. Two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza were also hit, the Israeli army said. There were no reports of casualties on the Palestinian side.

The air strike came a day after Hamas activists fired a dozen explosive projectiles towards Israel from the Gaza Strip. The projectiles, which Israeli media identified as rockets, caused no casualties or damage.

Hamas said its military wing was retaliating against Israeli army attacks on Palestinian civilians and fighters. 

"The occupation's escalation and its targeting of the peaceful Palestinians and Palestinian fighters prompted us to act," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in an English-language statement.

Since protests broke out along the Gaza border on 30 March demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees from Israel, at least 135 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority were involved in protests but others have been seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

No Israelis have been killed.

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