A Palestinian teenager died of wounds sustained during weekly clashes on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Saturday.
The ministry said Azzam Oweida, 15, was hit in the head during protests in southern Gaza on Friday
Oweida was the fourth person to have died from Friday’s clashes, according to the ministry’s figures, which said 955 people were wounded during the protests.
The teenager’s reported death followed a similar incident last week, when a 15-year-old Palestinian was said to have been shot dead. Videos circulated on social media appeared to show that teen, identified as Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoub, having been shot in the head.
An initial Israel Defense Forces investigation into Ayoub’s death indicated that he was trying to damage the barrier and that he had apparently crossed over an initial barbed wire barrier and was heading toward the main border fence when he was shot, according to a Channel 10 report.
Ayoub’s death drew sharp criticism from the United Nations envoy to the region, who slammed Israel’s response to the Gaza protests as “outrageous” and called on the IDF to stop shooting children.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman blamed Hamas for the teenager’s death, while Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the international body to condemn Hamas’s use of children as a cover for their terror activities.
Late Friday, the IDF released footage from this week’s clashes showing what it said was a bid by hundreds of Palestinians to breach the border fence. The confrontation, which drew IDF fire, was one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters.
It said “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter the Israel. It said the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement” and halted the crowd.
Video footage showed a young Palestinian man placing a burning tire along the fence in an apparent attempt to set it on fire. In other scenes, a small group lobs stones at an Israeli military vehicle on the other side of the fence.
The footage also showed large numbers of Gazans close to the border fence.
In other incidents Friday, the military said Palestinian crowds rolled burning tires, hurled rocks and flew kites with flaming objects attached with the goal of damaging the fence and other Israeli targets.
The IDF also released a photo appearing to show a group of youths tugging at barbed wire along the fence.
The weekly protests, which are backed and encouraged by Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, were originally dubbed by their Palestinian organizers as nonviolent, but Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, publicly supported the protests and declared that their ultimate goal was to erase the border and liberate Palestine.
The Israeli army says its troops only open fire at demonstrators who engage in violence, or who attempt to breach the barrier separating the territory from Israel. Palestinian videos have emerged that purport to show soldiers shooting protesters who did not pose a threat. The army has accused Hamas of fabricating video footage or releasing only partial clips
The military also says Hamas is using the protests as cover to damage the border fence and prepare to infiltrate and carry out attacks.
According to Gaza’s health ministry the latest deaths brought the death toll in the border clashes since March 30 to 45, with over 1,500 said injured by live fire.
Hamas acknowledged that five of its terrorists were among the fatalities after the first Friday demonstration, but has since refrained for acknowledging whether its men are among the dead. Israel has identified other fatalities as members of terrorist groups.
Agencies contributed to this report.