Gazan teen said killed in border clashes with Israeli troops

Army says some 200 Palestinians riot along security fence, throw explosives at soldiers; fire balloons from Strip start 6 blazes in south

A Palestinian waves a flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
A Palestinian waves a flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the Gaza border Tuesday, with the Hamas-run health ministry in the Palestinian enclave reporting a 17-year-old had died of injuries sustained during the violence.

Muntaser al-Baz, 17, was shot by Israeli soldiers during a protest east of the Bureij refugee camp and died at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, according to the ministry.

Five others were wounded during the unrest, the ministry said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP that troops at the border fence opened fire during a violent protest by about 200 Palestinians.

“They burned tires and threw explosive devices at soldiers,” she said. “They also threw a petrol bomb.”

She said none of the soldiers were injured.

“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and gunfire according to the rules of engagement,” she added.

Palestinians burn tires during clashes on a beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

In addition to the clashes on the border fence, incendiary balloons launched from Gaza sparked six fires near Israeli towns in southern Israel, a spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Services said.

The violence came on the heels of a tense few days after a rocket fired from the coastal enclave exploded outside a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba last week.

The rocket slammed into the top floor of the Beersheba house, causing significant damage but no injuries, as the mother inside had rushed her sons into their bomb shelter. In response, the IDF bombed some 20 targets in the coastal enclave, including a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel, the army said.

In the following day, Egypt and the United Nations reportedly brokered a ceasefire between the two sides — though neither Israel nor Hamas formally acknowledged it.

Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi (C), the head of the IDF’s Southern Command, visits a home in Beersheba that was destroyed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on October 17, 2018. (Flash90)

Following a decrease in the level of violence along the border in the preceding weekend, Israel reopened its two crossings into the Strip on Sunday.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office said a decision had yet to be made about allowing a supply of fuel that was purchased by Qatar into the coastal enclave.

“The decision… was postponed at this time and will be considered in a few days, depending on incidents [along the border],” Liberman’s office said.

The defense minister had ordered the Erez pedestrian crossing and Kerem Shalom goods crossing closed last Wednesday following the rocket launch.

The past weekend saw a significant decrease in violence along the Gaza security fence compared to previous weeks, in terms of both the number of people participating in border riots and the intensity of the clashes.

The IDF said a number of explosives and grenades had been set off during clashes on Friday and that Palestinians broke through the fence in three locations before immediately returning to the coastal enclave, with soldiers opening fire at the suspects in one case.

This picture taken on October 19, 2018, at Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel shows an Israeli military drone approaching balloons carrying an apparent incendiary device launched by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. (Jack Guez/AFP)

However, Israeli defense officials described the demonstrations as some of the quietest since the wave of protests dubbed the “March of Return” began.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots that have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

Some 157 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members.

An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border earlier this year.

AFP contributed to this report.

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