Israel says may have fired in error after Hamas militant killed

Relatives of Palestinian Hamas fighter Mahmoud Al-Adham, 28, mourn during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday. — Reuters

GAZA CITY — A Palestinian militant was killed by Israeli fire near the border fence in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the enclave's rulers Hamas said, while Israel suggested its soldiers had fired in error.

Mahmoud Al-Adham, 28, was shot by Israeli forces in northern Gaza, a statement from Hamas' armed wing said, claiming him as a member.

It said in a statement it would not let the death go "unpunished" and Israel "would bear the consequences of this criminal act."

In an initial statement, an Israeli army spokesman confirmed forces fired on two "armed suspects approaching the fence in the northern Gaza Strip."

Hamas's armed wing has observation points close to the border fence.

But later in the day, the military signaled it had fired in error.

It said an initial inquiry showed that a Hamas security agent had arrived in the area "because of two Palestinians who were wandering" there.

The army said the initial inquiry showed soldiers misidentified the Hamas agent as "an armed terrorist and fired as a result of this misunderstanding."

"The incident will be reviewed," it said.

At least 295 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since major Hamas-backed protests began along the border fence in March 2018.

Most were killed during the protests but others were killed by air strikes or tank fire.

Six Israelis have been killed.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. — AFP