Israeli fire kills Palestinian in border clashes: Gaza ministry

Gaza City: A Palestinian was killed and more than 40 others wounded by Israeli fire Friday in renewed protests and clashes along the Gaza border, the enclave’s health ministry said.

Tamer Arafat, 23, died from his wounds after being shot in the head, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Qudra said earlier that overall at least 42 Palestinians had been wounded by Israeli gunfire during the 50th week of demonstrations.

Four medics were among those hurt, the ministry said.

An Israeli army spokesman said “approximately 8,400 demonstrators and rioters are currently gathered in a number of locations along the Gaza Strip security fence”.

“They have hurled explosive devices and rocks at the security fence and soldiers, and have also ignited tyres,” the spokesman said.

Troops responded according to “standard operating procedures”, he added.

The Israeli military on Friday evening reported the launch of a projectile from the Gaza Strip into its territory.

Protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30 last year.

Demonstrators have been calling for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to be allowed to return to former homes now inside Israel, which Israeli officials say is akin to calling for the Jewish state’s destruction.

Israel accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover for infiltrations and attacks, while rights groups and Palestinians say protesters posing little threat have been shot by Israeli snipers.

At least 253 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israel and Hamas, which has controlled the blockaded Gaza Strip for over a decade, have fought three wars since 2008.

There has been an increase in violence over the past week as Israel has repeatedly struck Hamas positions in response to what it said were balloon-borne “explosive devices” floated across the border.