Palestinian militants using jeeps disguised as Israeli military vehicles have made a failed attack on Israeli soldiers at the main border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Six Palestinians were killed and nearly 20 people, mostly Palestinian policemen, were wounded after one of the vehicles exploded near their checkpoint. There were no Israeli casualties.

Israeli and Palestinian security officials say two of the jeeps exploded prematurely near the Erez border crossing in what appeared to be a failed suicide bombings.

The drivers died in those explosions and Israeli soldiers shot at a third jeep, killing the driver and a gunman.

Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad claimed joint responsibility for the attack, in which two Palestinian policemen were also killed. The militant groups had threatened retaliation for recent Israeli air strikes that killed several of their members.

Many Palestinians with jobs in Israel normally pass through Erez crossing, but Israel closed all crossing points in the West Bank and Gaza Strip late Thursday as a precaution during the Jewish festival of Purim, which ends late Monday.

In another deadly incident, Palestinian officials in the West Bank said a 19-year-old policeman was shot dead Saturday during a clash with Israeli soldiers in the town of Tulkarem.