Wednesday 16 January 2019

Israeli gunfire kills Palestinian at Gaza border

About 40 people were injured as renewed violence erupted along the Gaza-Israel border fence.

Palestinian protest
Palestinian protest

By Associated Press

A Palestinian man has been killed by Israeli gunfire and 40 people have been injured in protests on the Gaza-Israel border, health officials said.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said the man was killed near the Gaza town of Khan Younis.

He was said to have been killed by a shot to the head.

Mr al-Kidra said 40 people were injured, five of them seriously, but did not provide a breakdown of the types of injuries.

Palestinian protesters take cover during clashes along Gaza’s border (Adel Hana/AP)

The casualties were the first as new violent incidents erupted on Friday along the Gaza-Israel border fence.

Palestinian protesters burned tyres, sending black smoke billowing into the air and prompting Israeli troops to fire tear gas and live fire.

Friday’s death brought to 23 the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza over the past week, including 17 protesters.

Friday’s march was the second in what Gaza’s Hamas rulers said would be several weeks of protests against a decade-old border blockade of the territory.

Israel has accused the Islamic militant group of using the protests as a cover for attacking Israel’s border, and has warned that those approaching the fence put their lives at risk.

Protesters carry away a wounded man (Khalil Hamra/AP)

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians streamed to five tent encampments organisers had set up at various points several hundred metres from the border fence.

In one camp near the border community of Khuzaa, activists moved closer to the fence and torched large piles of tyres, engulfing the area in black smoke meant to shield them from Israeli snipers.

Troops on the other side of the fence responded with live fire, tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets. Water cannons trained a stream of thick liquid at the fence.

Within minutes, several young men with gunshot wounds began arriving at a field clinic at the camp.

Mohammed Ashour, 20, who had been among the first to set tyres on fire, had been shot in the right arm. He rested on a stretcher placed on the ground.

“We came here because we want dignity,” he said before paramedics carried him to an ambulance to be transported to the strip’s main hospital.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, portrayed the protests as riots, and said Hamas organisers were trying to use them as a diversion to “open up the fence and then to insert terrorists into Israel”.

Israel has drawn sharp criticism for its open-fire orders along the border.

The UN human rights office said it had indications that Israeli forces used “excessive force” against protesters last week.

Rights groups have branded orders permitting the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters as unlawful. A leading Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, issued a rare appeal to Israeli soldiers this week to refuse “grossly illegal” open-fire orders.

Lt Col Conricus said snipers are used “sparingly” and only against those that pose a “significant threat”.

As well as the protesters, six other deaths were three gunmen killed in what Israel said were attempts to attack the border and three men who were struck by Israeli tank fire.

Press Association

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