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Two Palestinians killed as 7,000 riot along Gaza border

According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in the violent riots in several locations along the Gaza border, throwing stones and explosive devices towards IDF troops.
By Anna Ahronheim

A Palestinian man was shot dead by IDF fire and a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by a sniper during violent demonstrations along the Gaza border fence, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said in a statement on Friday.

Identified as 43 year-old Ghazi Mohammad Abu Mustafa, he was reported to have been shot in the head east of Khan Younis and died at the hospital. Another 40 Palestinians were said to have been injured in the demonstrations.

According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in the violent riots in several locations along the Gaza border, throwing stones and explosive devices towards IDF troops. The demonstrators also burnt tires and hurled a grenade at troops, which landed inside the Gaza strip.

The military stated that a number of suspects were identified as approaching the security fence and sabotaged it before they returned to the Gaza Strip. Troops responded with crowd dispersal measures as well as live fire in accordance with IDF rules of engagement.

“IDF forces are deployed in the area of the fence and are ready for a variety of scenarios,” read the statement released by the military on Friday.

Gazans have held weekly demonstrations along the border fence since March 30 as part of what organizers have called the “Great March of Return.”

On Wednesday an IDF officer was moderately wounded after being shot by a sniper in the Kissufim area in an ambush after troops arrived to disperse a violent demonstration by 20 Palestinian youth close to the border fence.

The officer, who remains in the hospital recovering from his wounds, was shot just days after Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi was killed by sniper fire some 400 meters away. Described as the most serious incident along the border fence since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Levi was the first to be killed by a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip in four years. In response the IDF carried out massive retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets in the coastal enclave.

The protests along the border have been dubbed the greatest threat to Israeli security in the region since operation Protective Edge due to the combination of terror tunnels, riots, attempted infiltrations and the use of incendiary items.

Demonstrators have launched hundreds of kites, balloons and helium-filled latex condoms with incendiary and explosive devices on a daily basis into Israeli territory, sparking fires that have destroyed thousands of acres of farmland, parks and forests.

Ten fires broke out in Israeli communities along the Gaza border on Friday as a result of incendiary aerial devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Among others, fires broke out in Shokeda Forest, Simhoni Forest and Be'eri Forest, Kissufim, Gvar'am and Be'eri.

An IAF aircraft struck a cell of launching incendiary devices in the northern Gaza Strip in response to the fires. There were no injuries reported.

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health 153 Gazans, including 18 children and two women have been killed since the beginning of the weekly demonstrations. An additional 17,000 have been wounded, 400 of them said to be seriously injured.

Hamas officials have said that the protests, which also demand an end to a grinding Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza, will continue until their demands are met.
 
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