GAZA CITY - Israeli tanks fired into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, wounding seven Palestinians and leaving two of them in critical condition, a medical officials told AFP. The shell hit near the Karni crossing east of Gaza City, he said adding the injured included three elderly men, and four other men, including two who were in critical condition. Eyewitnesses said all those injured were farmers. Israeli security officials initially insisted no tank fire was involved in the incident, but the army later said tank fire had been directed at "terrorists." "A preliminary inquiry into the incident found that tank shells were fired in the direction of the terrorists," a military spokesman told AFP.

"Israeli soldiers identified several terrorists approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip, in an area that is used by terror organisations to lay explosive devices," an army spokesman had earlier told AFP.

The Israeli military maintains an exclusion zone inside the Gaza Strip along the border and regularly carries out military activities in the area.