Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Gaza border protests

Gaza City: Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on Friday during a seventh week of protests on the Gaza border, the enclave’s health ministry said.

Forty-year-old Jaber Abu Mustafa died after he was shot in the chest near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, the ministry said.

Nearly 150 other Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces during the demonstrations, the ministry said.

The death takes to 53 the number of Palestinians killed since protests began on March 30 calling for Palestinians to be able to return to the homes they fled in 1948, which are now inside Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians gathered at five different points along the border, AFP correspondents at the scene said.

Israeli forces responded with tear gas and live ammunition, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Israel’s army said around 15,000 Palestinians took part in Friday’s protests.

“The rioters burned tyres, threw stones at the security fence and Israeli soldiers” and also flew kites carrying incendiary devices to set fire to Israeli territory, the army said in a statement.

Israeli troops fired “in accordance with the rules of engagement,” it added.

The army has been accused of using excessive force against protestors, with both the United Nations and European Union calling for independent investigations.

The protests are due to culminate early next week.

On Monday, the United States is set to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and on Tuesday Palestinians will commemorate what they call the “Nakba” — Arabic for catastrophe — marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the war surrounding the creation of Israel.

Tens of thousands are expected to gather along the border, with many expected to try to breach the fence.

In a speech on Friday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said they would “transform the Palestinian catastrophe” into an Israeli catastrophe.

The Islamist movement Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007 and has fought three wars with Israel since.

Since the “Great March of Return” protests began on March 30, no Israelis have been injured.

Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the fence, infiltrations and attacks.

It accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out violence, but Palestinians say demonstrators are being shot while posing no threat to soldiers.

US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital infuriated Palestinians, who see the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

Separately, the border with Egypt, the only country apart from Israel with which Gaza shares a border, is set to open its crossing for four days starting on Saturday, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.

Agence France-Presse