The Israel Defense Forces rejected a Palestinian claim that troops on Tuesday shot dead an elderly farmer in the Gaza Strip, saying it was unaware of any shooting incidents in the area at the time.
Earlier the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said a 78-year-old Palestinian, Ibrahim Ahmad Nassar al-Arouqi, was killed at his home by by Israeli fire near the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Some Palestinian reports claimed the man was killed by bullets, while others said he was hit by fragments of a tank shell.
The ministry said its investigation confirmed that al-Arouqi was killed by “the occupation” — its term for Israel.
An army spokesperson said the IDF did not know of soldiers or tanks opening fire in the area around the time of al-Arouqi’s death.
The 78-year-old was said to have been hit outside his home in the al-Maghazi refugee camp, which is located over a kilometer from the security fence — a long, but not impossible, distance for a bullet or shell to travel.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and actively calls for Israel’s destruction, has increased the pace of rioting and demonstrations against Israel, and created new units tasked with sustaining tensions along the border fence including during nighttime and early morning hours.
The surge of violence in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border that were dubbed the “March of Return.” The clashes have included regular rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as shooting and IED attacks aimed at IDF soldiers, and attempts to breach the border fence.
Israel has responded with riot dispersal means and live fire to prevent attempts at breaching the border fence.
Gaza protesters have also launched incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have carried improvised explosive devices.
At least 140 Palestinians were killed during the protests since late March, according to AP figures. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members.
The riots have increased in recent weeks, going from a weekly event to near nightly protests since Hamas halted indirect talks with Israel aimed at a ceasefire. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has also worsened and reconciliation talks with the Palestinian Authority have broken down.
The Hamas terror group seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007.