Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on Friday, the territory’s health ministry said giving a new toll, as weeks of deadly clashes with protesters continued.
Among the dead was 15-year-old Haitham al-Jamal, who was shot on the border in southern Gaza east of the city of Khan Yunis, the ministry said. It earlier reported three deaths.
It said more than 100 Palestinians were also wounded by gunfire, including an AFP photographer, Mohammed Abed al-Baba, who was shot in the leg.
Baba, who has worked for AFP in Gaza since 2000, said he was shot in the leg while wearing a clearly identified press vest and helmet around 200 metres from the border east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.
Around 10,000 Palestinians gathered in five places along the border, the Israeli army said, with clashes ensuing. The army said in a statement its forces were using “riot dispersal means and are operating in accordance with the rules of engagement.” At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30. There have been no Israeli casualties.
Protests peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in protests to coincide with the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Before Friday’s protests the Israeli military had warned of another day of mass bloodshed, saying Hamas was encouraging people to seek to breach the fence again. But numbers were lower than some predictions and protesters mostly didn’t approach the border fence, AFP correspondents said.
Israel says Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas are using the protests as an excuse to carry out attacks. The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Critics say it amount to collective punishment of the territory’s two million residents. (AFP)