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Unarmed Palestinians Killed Attempting to Cross Border from Gaza Strip - 2002-12-12

Israeli forces have shot and killed five unarmed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip suspected of planning to climb a border fence.

Israeli military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldiers spotted five Palestinians Wednesday night as they were crawling toward the border fence near the Karni crossing point in the Gaza Strip.

The troops opened fire and reportedly only found the bodies during a search of the area on Thursday.

No weapons were found near the bodies, but Israel Radio reported soldiers did find ladders intended for climbing the fence.

Palestinian officials speculated that the five men may have been laborers, without work permits, who were attempting to smuggle themselves into Israel to find work.

The entire Gaza Strip is surrounded by a security fence and the number of Palestinian workers allowed to cross into Israel has been reduced severely since the start of violent clashes, more than two years ago.

The Israeli army is expected to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the five Palestinians.