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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Two Palestinians shot dead in Gaza by Israeli forces

Palestinians stage a fourth Friday of protests to demand right of return to former lands now in Israel

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops on the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops on the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

UPDATE: Now four dead by Israeli fire in latest border protests

Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday as demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border entered their fourth week .

Ashraf Al Qudra, spokesman for the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, said Ahmad Abu Aqel, 25, died of bullet wounds sustained east of Jabaliya. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident.

Security sources in Gaza said Abu Aqel was standing near a group of people setting fire to tyres near the border with Israel.

The second man killed in the north of the Gaza Strip was identified as Ahmad Rashad Al Athamneh, 24.

Their deaths bring the number of Gazans killed by Israeli forces in demonstrations and clashes on the border to 36 since March 30, according to Gaza's health ministry. Hundreds more have been wounded.

Israel has drawn international condemnation for the use of live ammunition against the protesters.

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Thousands of Gazans were gathered at various locations along the border in the blockaded enclave for a fourth consecutive Friday of protests calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former lands in what is now Israel.

Israel has pledged to stop damage to the fence, infiltrations and attacks, and alleges there have been attempts at all three.

It accuses Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.

The protests are planned to continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation in 1948. Palestinians observe the day as the "nakba", or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes. Palestinian anger has been fuelled by the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move its embassy there to coincide with the anniversary. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state comprising the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

UPDATE: Now four dead by Israeli fire in latest border protests