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The military said Palestinians detonated an explosive device near troops who were on a routine patrol of the border with Gaza. Soldiers later saw militants handling explosives and opened fire.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said a Palestinian was killed and two others were wounded by Israeli tank fire.

Last week, the Islamic Hamas rulers of Gaza urged other armed groups there to refrain from attacking Israel. It warned that continued violence could draw Israeli retaliation and threaten an unwritten two-year-old cease-fire. That followed a bruising three-week Israeli invasion to stop daily rocket barrages from Gaza.

Despite the Hamas appeal, militants fired five mortar shells at southern Israel on Tuesday. The shells exploded in open areas and caused no injuries or damage, the Israeli military said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports