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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Palestinian boy and two men killed by Israeli fire in Gaza

Witness says 11-year-old was far from border fence when he was shot during protests on Friday

A woman holds a Palestinian flag during protests at the Israel-Gaza border fence on September 14, 2018. Reuters
A woman holds a Palestinian flag during protests at the Israel-Gaza border fence on September 14, 2018. Reuters

Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians, one of them an 11-year-old boy, and wounded at least 248 others taking part on Friday in weekly protests at the Gaza Strip border, Palestinian medical officials said.

A witness said the boy, identified as Shadi Abdel-Al, was about 70 metres from the fence when he was shot. "He threw a few stones, which flew just a few yards. He posed no threat," said Hashem Hassan, 28.

Shadi is the youngest fatality from Israeli gunfire that has killed 177 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border that began on March 30.

"He used to go every Friday to the marches like thousands of other people. This Friday was his destiny to die as a martyr," his father, Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Al, said.

Asked about the boy's death, an Israeli military spokeswoman said only that troops had kept to their open-fire regulations.

The military said it used force necessary to repel 13,000 Palestinians who massed at several points at the border fence on Friday. Some hurled rocks, fire-bombs and grenades at troops under cover of smoke from burning tyres, injuring a soldier, and nine Palestinians briefly crossed into Israel, the military said.

A Palestinian hurls stones during border protests in Gaza on September 14, 2018. AP Photo
A Palestinian hurls stones during border protests in Gaza on September 14, 2018. AP Photo

Since March 30, Gaza has also seen shelling exchanges between the coastal enclave's Islamist Hamas rulers and Israel. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper and Israel has lost tracts of forest and farmland to cross-border incendiary attacks.

Israel's tactics against the protests have drawn international condemnation.

But Washington has backed its ally in accusing Hamas of staging the mass-mobilisation to distract from Gaza's poverty and governance problems and to provide cover for armed Palestinian border incursions. Hamas has denied this.

The Israeli military said that, twice this week, its patrols discovered and dismantled bombs that had been planted for use against them at the fence. Early on Friday, several Palestinians crawled to the fence to throw a pipe bomb at troops, who fired back, it said. There was no word of casualties.

Israeli tear gas canisters arc through smoke from burning tyres during protests in Gaza on September 14, 2018. AFP
Israeli tear gas canisters arc through smoke from burning tyres during protests in Gaza on September 14, 2018. AFP

The protesters want rights to lands Palestinians lost during the 1948 war of Israel's foundation, as well as the easing of a crippling blockade that Israel, with the help of neighbouring Egypt, has placed on Gaza to isolate Hamas and deny it weaponry.

UN and Egyptian mediators have been trying to reach a deal to calm Gaza, where Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the last decade. The mediation efforts have been complicated by Hamas's feuding with western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has restricted funding to Gaza.

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