Six Said Killed as Explosion Rocks Central Gaza Strip

Palestinian employees queue outside a cash machine outside the Bank of Palestine as they wait to withdraw their salaries in Gaza City

Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinians who tried to breach the Gaza border fence, the military said, adding that an axe and a wire cutter were found in their possession.

The killing on Sunday of Baha Abdul Rahman Qdeih, 23, and Mohammad Khaled Abu Rideh, 20, raised the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers since a new wave of protests began on March 30 to at least 43. The IDF claimed the suspects were conspiring to damage "security infrastructure in the area of the security fence".

The blast comes after weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the border between Gaza and Israel, but there was no indication the explosion was the result of an Israeli strike.

The protest will be ongoing until May 15's Nakba Day - the day of "catastrophe" that marks the establishment of the State of Israel, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Israeli media have in recent days alleged damage to farms due to kite-flown Molotov cocktails, though the devices face hard odds in making it across the fence while staying alight.

A Palestinian source quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the victims appeared to be members of Hamas.

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Israel has come under global criticism, including from the United Nations and the European Union, for the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Hundreds more have been wounded by gunfire.

Of those, three were shot dead on Sunday.

Around 50 Palestinians have been killed during the protests, and thousands have been injured. Two of the terrorists were killed, said the IDF.

"Last night an aircraft struck a terror post belonging to the Hamas terror organization adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip", a spokeswoman told AFP, without describing the target.

Hamas later said the six, including two commanders, were killed "dismantling booby-trapped spying equipment planted by Israel during the past decade in Gaza".

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