An Israeli aircraft and tank strike killed two Palestinians close to the border fence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, medical officials said.

Residents of the north Gaza town of Beit Hanoun said Israeli planes and tanks had fired into the area.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the attack and an army statement said: Aircraft and armoured corps soldiers targeted a terrorist squad that was planting an explosive device near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

The statement said it was the second such attempt in 2012 by Palestinian militants to plant a bomb in an area of the border where the Israeli military regularly patrols. Israel has declared the frontier area a no-go zone for Gaza residents.

Palestinian medical officials said one man was killed at the scene and a second man later died at hospital of his wounds.

No Palestinian militant group claimed the men as members.

It was the first deadly military strike in the Gaza Strip since December 30, when an Israeli aircraft killed the leader of an al Qaeda-inspired faction.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mark Heinrich)