Three Gazans shot dead by Israeli army

AFP, Thursday 17 Feb 2011

Three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops in an area near Gaza's northern border with Israel

Three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops early on Thursday in an area near Gaza's northern border with Israel, officials on both sides said.

Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for the Hamas-run emergency services, said the men died after being hit by a tank shell and machine gun fire in an area called Al-Waha which lies close to both the shore and the northern border with Israel.

Abu Selmiya said the three were fishermen and identified them as Jihad Khalaf, 20, Talaat al-Awagh, 25 and Ashraf al-Kteifan, 29.

The Israeli army confirmed shooting three men near the border, with a spokesman saying troops had "opened fire towards a number of Palestinians who were attempting to plant an explosive device near the fence."

They had identified hitting three people, he said.

Increased tensions about the Gaza border have raised concerns about a new Israeli invasion of the coastal enclave like the devastating 22-day offensive which began at the end of December 2008, killing 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.

However Gaza has been relatively quiet over the past 10 days, with a lower-than-normal number of rockets fired into southern Israel, military sources said.

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