IDF troops fire at suspicious vehicle on Gaza border

Driver suffers neck wounds, according to Palestinian media

Israeli soldiers stand guard along the Gaza border east of the city of Rafah in the southern Strip during Nakba Day protests on May 15, 2019. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Israeli soldiers stand guard along the Gaza border east of the city of Rafah in the southern Strip during Nakba Day protests on May 15, 2019. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

The Israel Defense Forces fired warning shots at a driver in a suspicious vehicle near the Gaza border on Saturday, the military said.

The incident occurred near the border area with southern Gaza.

According to Palestinian media reports cited by the Israeli press, the driver suffered wounds to the neck. His condition was unclear.

The IDF spokesperson’s office said soldiers opened fire in accordance with engagement rules.

On Friday, several thousand Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza Strip border with several hundred rioting and throwing rocks and explosive devices at IDF soldiers.

The soldiers responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 16 people had been wounded, including six from live fire.

There were no reports of Israeli injuries.

Since March 2018, Palestinians have been holding weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Friday’s march came after a Qatari envoy reportedly arrived in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday-Friday to distribute another round of cash payments to 100,000 Palestinian families in the enclave.

It is the latest in a succession of financial aid delivered by Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi meant to cover fuel for electricity, salaries and assistance for needy families in the Strip from the Gulf country, which has budgeted some $330 million for the program launched last year.

The individual $100 stipends will be handed out on Friday, reports said.

Qatar announced on May 6 that it would send $480 million to the West Bank and Gaza to “aid the brotherly Palestinian people in obtaining its basic needs.” PA officials later said that Doha would deliver $300 million, primarily in loans, to Ramallah’s accounts and $180 million to Gaza.

The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, speaks during an interview in his office with AFP in Gaza City on 24, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

In recent months, Israel has quietly provided some relief as part of an unofficial, Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas, in exchange for reduced rocket fire from the territory and the scaling back of weekly protests along the border. It has allowed Qatar to deliver millions of dollars in cash to allow Hamas to pay its civil servants and has allowed the United Nations to step up aid efforts.

Israel has also expanded a program in which it had long provided hundreds of permits to business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce. Palestinian officials say it is now providing some 5,000 so-called merchant permits and awarding them to Palestinians working as laborers in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

Earlier this week, a Palestinian Authority official said Israel has promised to allow a shipment of tires into the Gaza Strip, but an Israeli security source flatly denied the claim, calling it a “lie.”

Israel often has to contend with sporadic rocket fire and border breaches from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a violent coup against the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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