Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinians trying to breach the Gaza border fence, military officials said, adding that an ax and a wire cutter had been found in their possession.
Soldiers fired shells and machine guns at the men, according to a Palestinian doctor, Izzat Shatat. He said the men had been close to the border fence, but he was not sure they actually got to Israel.
The attempted break came at a time of heightened tension on the border between Gaza and Israel, including more than a month of weekly mass protests near the fence. Gaza's Hamas rulers said the marches would continue until a decades-long blockade of territory by Israel and Egypt was lifted. Further protests are expected on Friday and on 1
On May 14, the United States will transfer its message in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose Israeli-annexed eastern sector is being searched for a Palestinian capital. The movement is seen by the Palestinians as a violation of US longstanding promises to help negotiate a fair deal for the embattled city.
The next day, the Palestinians mark the "Nakba" or disaster to commemorate their anniversary, mass destruction during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven out of present-day Israel, and the border protests are also referred to as the "Great March of Return".
Since the end of March, 40 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed and more than 1,700 wounded by Israeli army fire.
Israel has come under international criticism, including from the United Nations and the European Union, for using lethal force against unarmed demonstrators. Human rights groups are of the opinion that the fire instructions of the army, under which troops are allowed to shoot at the border fence, are unlawful.
Israel says it defends its sovereign border including surrounding communities Israel accuses Hamas of Israel's destruction of Israel, under the guise of mass protests to perpetrate.
In addition to the Palestinians killed and injured as part of the protests, other border incidents were killed on March 30.
Of these, three were shot dead on Sunday.
The Israeli military said four men in the area of the fence "entered with the intention of infiltrating terror and assaulting."
It said that troops arrived at the scene and fired shots, killing three of the men. The statement said the troops found an ax, a wire cutter, an oxygen mask, gloves, and two gas containers.
The statement was unclear as to whether the Palestinians were able to get to Israel. The army spokesman's office said when they were asked to clarify that the men broke through and were shot at the fence area.
On Sunday, thousands under the leadership of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh joined a funeral procession for six members of Hamas on the military wing, which was killed the day before in an explosion.
Gaza media initially reported the explosion as an "occupational accident," suggesting that the men were killed when explosives they prepared prematurely exploded.
Hamas later said, including two commanders, were killed "dismantling of bomb-captured espionage equipment planted by Israel during the last decade in Gaza." It was not specified or evidence was presented.
Hamas said Israel will "pay a high price".
Israeli military declined to comment.