GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians, one of whom was an 11-year-old boy, and injured at least 248 others who took part in weekly protests on the fortified border of the Gaza Strip on Friday, Palestinian medical officials said.
A Palestinian holds a pendulum for throwing stones at Israeli forces during a protest calling for the Israeli blockade in Gaza to be lifted and demanding the right to return to their homeland at the Israeli Gaza border, September 14, 2018. REUTERS / Mohammed Salem
The Israeli army said it used the force needed to drop 13,000 Palestinians who gathered at the gate at various points.
Some threw rocks, fire bombs and grenades at troops under cover of smoke from burning tires, wounded a soldier and nine Palestinians briefly entered Israel, the army said.
On Friday, dead deaths brought 177 deaths to the number of murdered Palestinians since the sometimes violent demonstrations on March 30 were launched to impose demands on Israel. The 11-year-old, Shadi Abdel-Al, is the youngest fatal victim of the Israeli gun.
"He went every Friday to the marches like thousands of other people, this Friday was his destination to die like a martyr," the boy's father, Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Al, told Reuters.
Another Palestinian, 28-year-old Hashem Hassan, said he saw that Abdel-Al was shot 70 meters from the fence: "He threw a couple of stones that flew only a few yards, and he posed no threat."
Asked about the death of Abdel-Al, a military spokeswoman said only that the troops had kept their rules for open fire.
Since 30 March Gaza has also seen shelling between the Islamic Hamas rulers of the coastal enclave and Israel. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper and Israel has lost tracts of forest and farmland to cross-border fire-prone attacks.
The tactic of Israel against the protests has drawn international condemnation.
But Washington has supported its ally by accusing Hamas of massive mobilization to divert the poverty and governance problems in Gaza and to provide cover for armed Palestinian border incidents. Hamas has denied this.
The Israeli army said that, twice a week, the patrols discovered and dismantled bombs that had been planted for use against them on the fence. Early on Friday, a number of Palestinians crawled to the fence to throw a pipeline to troops that shrugged back, the army said. There was no word of victims.
The protesters want rights to countries that Palestinians lost during the war of Israel in 1948, as well as the relaxation of a paralyzing blockade that Israel, with the help of neighboring Egypt, placed on Gaza to isolate Hamas and deny it weapons.
U.N. and Egyptian mediators have tried to reach a deal to calm Gaza, where Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the last decade. The mediation efforts were complicated by the Hamas quarrel with the West-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who limited funding for Gaza.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Edit by Matthew Mpoke Bigg