An Israeli strike has killed at least two Palestinians in northern Gaza close to the border, the occupied territory's health ministry said.

"We recovered one martyr and two other people with injuries after the air raid carried out by occupation aircraft in Beit Hanoun," Adham Abu Selmiya, a government official, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

One of the injured, who was in critical condition, later succumbed to his wounds.

Palestinian security sources said the raid hit a field used by Hamas.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the target was "a terrorist squad that was attempting to place an explosive device by the security fence" in the second such incident this year.

She said an Israeli aircraft and the armoured corps had fired at the squad, and the device that they were trying to plant had exploded.

In 2011, there were "approximately 30 such incidents", she said.

The often tense border between the coastal territory and Israel has been calm in recent days, after an increase in rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli attacks in December.

Source: Agencies