May 6 (UPI) -- Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli Defense Forces troops Sunday after attempting to cross the border from southern Gaza into Israel.
Troops opened fire on a group of four men who "arrived at the perimeter fence to infiltrate into Israeli territory and attempt to carry out hostile terror activity," the IDF said.
Palestinian Health Ministry identified two of the deceased as 23-year-old Bahaa Qdeih and 20-year-old Mohammed Abu Rida.
"In this incident, an attempt to damage the security infrastructure, breach Israel's sovereignty and carry out an attack was thwarted," the IDF said, according to CNN.
Protests along the Israel-Gaza border calling for an end to Israel's blockade of the territory have carried on for six weeks resulting in about 51 Palestinians being killed by Israeli forces, while no Israeli soldiers have been killed or injured.
Israel has said the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been responsible for the demonstrations and claimed the group has used protesters in pursuit of its own interests.
"We will continue to act against terror attacks above and below ground," the IDF said. "The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip."
The IDF said the deaths Sunday were in no way related to an explosion in the central Gaza strip that killed six members of the Hamas military on Saturday.