GAZA CITY - Israeli troops yesterday fended off Palestinian gunmen who attacked a crossing area on the Gaza border, thwarting the third attempt by militants to infiltrate into Israel within a week.
One Palestinian was reported killed in the clash, which followed a day of fighting between Israeli forces and Gaza militants that killed three Israeli soldiers and 21 Palestinians, including five children and a news cameraman.
Gazans are angry over a nearly yearlong blockade of their borders, causing shortages in almost all commodities in the seaside territory. Israel generally halts all shipments after attacks such as the one yesterday.
Some analysts suggest the militant group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since last June, is trying to provoke an even worse situation for Gazans to ratchet up international pressure on Israel to relax the blockade.
With Egyptian efforts to mediate a Gaza cease-fire sputtering, Hamas has threatened to violently break through the Israeli border. The group blew up the wall along Gaza's border with Egypt in January.
Israel has greatly restricted the flow of fuel and goods into Gaza because of repeated rocket attacks on southern Israel. It tightened the blockade recently in response to heavy fighting.
Israel considers Hamas, a militant Islamic group committed to destruction of the Jewish state, a terrorist group.
Gaza militants consider the border crossings humiliating symbols of the economic blockade.
Three militants yesterday attacked Kerem Shalom, a crossing used to deliver humanitarian supplies into Gaza, Israel's army said. Soldiers opened fire, killing one attacker and wounding another, the army said. The third militant escaped.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Last week, gunmen slipped over the border and killed two civilian workers at the Nahal Oz terminal, which pumps fuel into Gaza. On Wednesday, three Israeli soldiers were killed in a Hamas ambush when they pursued two militants seen planting a bomb next to the terminal.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was closed after yesterday's attack. Later in the day, the fuel terminal was shut down, just a day after reopening, because it came under fire, the military said.
Some 3,000 Palestinians, including journalists and members of rival political movements, marched through Gaza City in the funeral procession for a TV cameraman killed while covering Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
Fadel Shana, a 23-year-old cameraman with the Reuters news agency, was among 21 Palestinians killed Wednesday - the bloodiest day in Gaza in more than a month. A militant died of his wounds Thursday, a Palestinian health official said.
Shana was taping Israeli tank movements in the distance when he and two bystanders were struck down. He was in the area to film the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike that killed 12 Palestinians.
Also yesterday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian militants in a raid in the West Bank town of Qabatiya.