For the first time since weekly Gaza border protests began four months ago, the IDF announced Tuesday that it would be opening investigations into the deaths of two Palestinians killed during clashes with Israeli forces.
Military Advocate General Sharon Afek ordered probes be opened into the March 30 shooting of Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi, 18, and the July 13 shooting of Othman Helles, 15, “in light of the suspicion that the shootings were not in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the IDF said in a statement.
Footage aired by Palestinian media from the March 30 incident appears to show Abdel Nabi carrying a large tire and running away from the border toward the main body of demonstrators, when he is shot and falls to the ground.
At the time, the IDF said in a statement that Hamas had published a number of videos “some of which only depict parts of incidents while other are edited or completely fabricated.”
Footage of the July 13 incident, appears to show Helles climbing the Gaza border fence before being shot.
At the time, the IDF released a statement saying the 15-year-old had attempted to infiltrate into Israel, though Palestinians have disputed this.
— يوسف شرف ???????? #غزة (@_Ysharaf) July 13, 2018
Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes that saw Israeli security forces facing Palestinian gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.
At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, the Hamas-run health ministry says. Hamas, a terror group that seized control of Gaza in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.
On Friday, thousands of Gazans demonstrated along the Israeli border near the Erez Crossing in weekly Hamas-backed “March of Return” demonstrations. Hamas leaders had urged the public to participate in Friday’s protests. Rioters hurled rocks, improvised bombs and Molotov cocktails at soldiers and burned tires to create a smokescreen. Others launched incendiary balloons toward Israel.
Two Palestinian men were reported killed and around 250 injured, of which at least 25 were said hit by live fire, in those protests.
Recent months have seen repeated rounds of intense violence between Israel and Hamas, along with weekly border protests at the Gaza border that have regularly included rioting, attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to infiltrate and sabotage the border fence. In addition, balloons and kites launched from Gaza bearing incendiary devices have caused hundreds of fires in southern Israel that have burned thousands of acres of land.
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