The Israeli Defense Forces opened fire on Palestinians at a border crossing near the northern section of the Gaza Strip Thursday, wounding eight civilians, according to Palestinian officials.
Israeli Army Radio reported that the soldiers fired upon armed militants approaching the border after repeated warnings. It added that the militants were suspected of attempting to plant explosives near an army compound.
An IDF spokesperson said that a group of Palestinian militants had been identified near the border and retreated into the civilian population once Israeli soldiers opened fire, Haaretz reported.
Reports of the use of tank fire by Israeli forces were initially denied by a military spokesperson, but later left open to confirmation.
Initial investigation of the incident suggests that tank shells were fired against the terrorists, a military spokesman said, Reuters reported.
Palestinian medical sources reported that two people were seriously wounded as a result of rifle fire and tank shells and added that three of the wounded were elderly farmers.
Last month another incident occurred where Israeli soldiers fired upon demonstrators near the Gaza border, wounding seven and placing one in serious condition. The demonstrators were unarmed, according to Palestinian authorities.
An IDF official said demonstrators were asked to disperse and after failing to do so, soldiers fired upon them aiming at the lower half of their bodies, Haaretz reported.
They had no reason to shoot us. We posed no threat to them whatsoever, Bianca Zammit, a foreign activist who was shot in the leg, told the Associated Press.
Israel has declared areas near the Gaza border off-limits, citing security concerns as Palestinian militants have attempted to plant explosives near army compounds in the past. The restrictions, however, also prevent civilian farmers from accessing their land.
The demonstrators were protesting these restrictions.