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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Israeli soldiers kill three in Gaza and one in West Bank

Palestinians say car passenger was shot for no reason as he left a checkpoint

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli troops with his sling during clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza, 21 December 2018. EPA
A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli troops with his sling during clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza, 21 December 2018. EPA

Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinians, including a teenager, in the Gaza Strip during the latest weekly protest along the border with Israel on Friday, Palestinian health officials said.

About 8,000 Palestinians gathered near the border fence, the Israeli military said. Most kept their distance, while some burned tyres and tried to throw an explosive device into Israel, though it did not land across the border, the military said.

A military spokeswoman said the troops responded with "riot dispersal means" and fired in accordance with Israeli procedure.

Gaza's health ministry said 16-year-old Mohammad Jahjouh was fatally shot in the neck, while 25 others, including a local journalist, were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

It later said two men, aged 28 and 40, died of injuries they sustained at protests in two separate locations along the fence with Israel earlier in the day.

Forty six Palestinians – including two journalists and four first aid responders – were wounded at the protests, the ministry said.

In the West Bank, an Israeli soldier fired on a car as it left a checkpoint on Friday.

It said soldiers fired warning shots in the air when the driver ignored orders to halt but car sped up instead. The army said it responded with live fire, killing one passenger.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the dead passenger as Qasim Abbasi, 17, from east Jerusalem.

His cousin, Mohammed Abbasi, said that he, Qasim, and a friend were driving out of the Palestinian city of Ramallah when an Israeli soldier told them the road was closed. Mr Abbasi said when they tried to make a U-turn, a soldier fired at their car, shattering the rear window and striking Qasim in the back.

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Mr Abbasi said he and his friend, who was driving, were not injured. He said they were released after being interrogated by police.

The West Bank saw an increase in violence last week after a pair of deadly shootings targeting Israeli soldiers and settlers. The army has arrested scores of Hamas activists as it ratchets up its hunt for a Palestinian assailant.

Health officials in Gaza, which is run by the Hamas movement, say more than 220 Palestinians have been killed since they began weekly border protests on March 30 to demand the easing of Israel's blockade on the territory and the right to return to land lost in the 1948 war of Israel's founding.

Israel has ruled out any such right, concerned that the country would lose its Jewish majority.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during an aborted special forces operation inside Gaza.

Alarmed at the bloodshed, Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar have sought ways to improve conditions in the enclave.

Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land, air and sea borders. The wider Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been stalled for several years.

Updated: December 23, 2018 02:34 PM

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