GAZA CITY — Thirteen Palestinian protesters were wounded by Israeli army gunfire Friday in clashes near the border fence in the central Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said.
Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, said one man was in serious condition after being shot in the head. Also, a 12-year-old boy reportedly suffered a head injury when he was struck by a tear gas canister, according to Palestinian sources cited by Israel Radio.
Qudra said the shooting, not far from Jabaliya northeast of Gaza City, came after the Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers.
An army spokeswoman told AFP that hundreds of Palestinians had been throwing stones at Israeli soldiers beyond the border fence and attempting to sabotage it.
The soldiers opened live fire at “the lower extremities of the main instigators” after attempts to disperse them with riot dispersal means failed, she said.
In a separate incident in southern Gaza, soldiers identified an armed suspect approaching the border fence east of Rafah and fired at the suspect after warning shots into the air went unheeded.
Qudra told AFP that a Hamas officer and a 13-year-old boy were injured by gunfire in that incident. The IDF said it believed the person shot was the Hamas officer and that the army had no knowledge of any children being hit.
Clashes are common on Fridays, with regular protests near the border in support of Gaza farmers who say troops uprooted their trees to create a buffer zone.
Tensions have risen in and around Hamas-ruled Gaza after a year of relative calm, with Palestinian terrorists firing projectiles at Israel and the Jewish state targeting Hamas facilities and gunmen.
According to army figures Palestinians have shot 37 rockets that hit southern Israel since the beginning of 2014, most recently on February 14.