Three Palestinians killed as Israeli forces fire bullets at border protesters
Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in clashes on the Gaza border Friday, the health ministry in the enclave said, in the latest day of demonstrations dubbed the Great March of Return.
The ministry said two of the men, who it did not identify, were killed by Israeli fire east of Gaza City. An AFP correspondent saw both bodies at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
A third man, identified by the ministry as 29-year-old Abdul Salam al-Bakr, was killed east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed since protests began on March 30 to 44.
154 other people were hospitalized for gunshot wounds and tear gas inhalation, Gaza’s health ministry said. As on previous Fridays, protesters gathered at five sites near the border fence, though numbers were down on earlier weeks.
It was earlier reported that a Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in clashes on the Gaza border Friday, the health ministry in the enclave said, in the latest day of demonstrations dubbed the Great March of Return. The unidentified man was shot dead east of Gaza City, the ministry said, bringing the number of Palestinians killed since protests began on March 30 to 42.
Israeli soldiers fired bullets and tear gas at thousands of Palestinian protesters at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, wounding nearly 200 people, hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticized Israel for using “excessive force.”
Right to return
Israeli troops have killed 38 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others since Gaza residents began staging protests along the border fence on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli ground troops, holed up behind fortifications on their side of the 40km (25-mile) border fence, fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters at five locations on the Gazan side.
The Gaza health ministry said 60 were wounded by gun fire, including a Palestinian journalist who was hit with a bullet in his foot.
Dozens more, including four medics, were treated for gas inhalation, as Israeli forces showered the area with tear gas canisters from behind their fortifications.
Protesters hurled stones and rolled burning tires toward the fence, and some attached cans of burning petrol to kites and flew them into Israeli territory.
Others cleared away barbed wire coils which Israeli troops had placed in Gazan territory overnight in a bid to create a buffer zone between protesters and the fence.
The protests come at a time of growing frustration for Palestinians as prospects for an independent Palestinian state look poor. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for several years and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have expanded.
In a statement released earlier on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein called the loss of life was “deplorable” and that a “staggering number of injuries” had been caused by live ammunition.
Israel’s foreign ministry had no immediate comment but the government has consistently said that it is protecting its borders and that its troops are following rules of engagement.
(With AFP inputs)
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