The violence began when an Israeli tank patrolling the northern Gaza border was struck by an anti-tank missile fired by Gaza militants. Four Israeli soldiers were wounded, including one in critical condition.
It was unclear which Palestinian militant group was responsible for the attack.
Israel Defense Forces struck back with ground fire and air raids over nearby areas, Palestinian witnesses said. Most of 30 injured Palestinians were residents of a neighborhood east of Gaza City that came under fire when militants fled to their area, Palestinians said.
Among the dead were Ahmed Dardasawi, 18, and Mohmad Harara, 17, Gaza hospital officials said.
The fighting raised fears that violence in the Gaza Strip could escalate. Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, condemned the “Zionist escalation and targeting of civilians," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
Shortly after the Israeli airstrikes, Gaza militants fired numerous rockets into southern Israel. No injuries were reported. Israel warned citizens living near the border to remain close to bomb shelters.
Back-and-forth violence has rattled the region for months despite efforts to broker a cease-fire.
Several Palestinian civilians have been killed in recent clashes, including a 12-year-old boy struck in crossfire and a mentally unstable young man shot by Israeli soldiers when he drifted close to the border, Palestinian officials said.The two deaths occurred last week.
On Thursday, an Israeli soldier was wounded when an explosive device destroyed a vehicle that was involved in maintenance work along the border fence.
-- Rushdi abu Alouf
Photo: Wounded Israeli soldiers are wheeled into the Soroka hospital in Beersheva, southern Israel, following clashes along the Gaza Strip border, east of Gaza City on Saturday. Credit: Dudu Grunshpan / AFP/ Getty Images