A Palestinian man was shot Sunday by IDF soldiers on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, near the northern Gaza Strip border fence.

The man suffered mild injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Beit Lahiya for treatment, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office stated that the man was shot after he and several other Palestinians entered the buffer zone near the Erez border crossing and began “tampering with the ground” in the area. The soldiers first used riot dispersal means in an attempt to distance the men from the fence, but resorted to firing bullets at their lower extremities after the men continued advancing toward the crossing, an IDF spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the soldiers were concerned the men may have been planning to plant explosive devices at the site.

Palestinian witnesses at the scene, however, claimed the men were merely collecting pebbles, typically used in order to make concrete, Ma’an reported.

Two weeks ago, Palestinian gunmen fired at an IDF force on the Gaza border, near the Kissufim border crossing in the central Gaza Strip.

The military said no soldiers were injured in the incident and no damage was caused. Soldier returned fire at the source of the shooting, but did not identify the assailants, the army said.

Itamar Sharon contributed to this report.