2 Gazans killed by Israeli fire after infiltration attempt: army, medics

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Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed after attempting to infiltrate Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Israeli army and Palestinian medical sources said, the latest incident in escalating cross-border violence.

The army said its forces "fired towards three suspects who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip and to damage security infrastructure", killing two of the suspects.

Gaza's health ministry confirmed the deaths, identifying the casualties as Abdel Rahman Qudeih, 23, and Mohammed Abu Rayda, 20.

The incident raised to 51 the toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30.

Hundreds more have been wounded by gunfire.

Demonstrators are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948, which Israel argues would effectively spell the end of the country as a Jewish state.

No Israelis have been hurt in the weeks of protests. The military has faced international criticism for its use of live ammunition.

Overnight Israel struck a facility belonging to the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas in reaction to kite-borne fire bombings, which have caused significant damage to Israeli fields.