Three others were also wounded in what residents said appeared to be an accidental explosion in Deir el-Balah city, according to Gaza's health ministry. But the military wing of Hamas blamed Israel for the explosion.

The brother of a Palestinian Hamas member, who was killed in an explosion, is consoled at a hospital in the central Gaza Strip on May 5, 2018
The brother of a Palestinian Hamas member, who was killed in an explosion, is consoled at a hospital in the central Gaza Strip on May 5, 2018 (Reuters)

Six people were killed in an accidental explosion in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, Palestinian health officials and residents said.

Gaza's health ministry confirmed that three others were also wounded in what residents said appeared to be an accidental explosion in the Az-Zawayda area of Deir el-Balah city, in central Gaza Strip.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of  Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the fatalities were members of their group and blamed Israel for the explosion without providing details. 

The incident occurred during a "complex security and intelligence operation", Qassam said in a statement, calling it "serious and large security incident" and blaming the "Zionist enemy."

Protests during the Great March of Return
Protests during the Great March of Return (AFP)

Israeli military denies involvement

"The IDF (Israel Defence Force) is not involved in this incident in any way," a military spokesman said.

Saturday's blast follows weeks of protests along the Israeli-Gaza border as part of the "Great March of Return" movement which demands their return to their homes occupied by Israel decades ago.

The rallies will end on May 15, which will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment - an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "The Catastrophe".

Since the rallies began on March 30, at least 47 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and more than 7,000 wounded.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies