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Israeli military kills three Palestinians near Gaza Strip fence

Palestinians say Israel has used excessive force, as its use of live fire has drawn international criticism
Palestinian demonstrators hoist national flags on truck at Israel-Gaza border on 27 April (AFP)

Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinians along the border with the Gaza Strip in two separate incidents on Sunday, the Israeli military said.

The shootings follow a month of violence along the Israel-Gaza border, where Palestinians have been holding protests every Friday pressing for the right of return for refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.

In the first incident on Sunday, two men "attempted to infiltrate" into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, the military said in a statement. Soldiers shot and killed one of the men, and the other was wounded and held for questioning.

In the second incident, the army said two militants who managed to cross the fence "hurled explosive devices" at Israeli soldiers, who shot them dead. There was no claim of responsibility from any militant group in Gaza.

Israel has refused any right of return for Palestinians who were expelled or fled and became refugees when the state of Israel was established in 1948 - in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (the catastrophe) - fearing that it would lose its Jewish majority.

The Palestinians say Israel has used excessive force, and its use of live fire has drawn international criticism.

Israel says that it is defending its sovereign border, including nearby communities, and that its troops target only instigators. Israel accuses Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of the mass protests.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli forces have killed 42 Palestinians since protests began on 30 March and about 2,000 have been wounded by gunfire. No serious casualties have been reported on the Israeli side.

The Gaza Health Ministry said that three Palestinians were also killed on Friday and 200 were wounded by Israeli gunfire, while a fourth died of his wounds on Saturday.

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