Israeli forces killed a Palestinian demonstrator on the Gaza border, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said overnight Friday-Saturday.
The ministry said a bullet struck 23-year-old Ahmed al-Qarra in the stomach Friday and he later died at the hospital.
Around 4,500 Palestinians rioted along the fence on Friday. Some of the demonstrators threw explosive devices, firebombs and stones at Israel Defense Forces vehicles, causing damage to one of the them, the Kan broadcaster reported.
Thirty-eight Palestinians were hit and wounded with live ammunition during the clashes, the Gaza health ministry said.
The weekly protests call for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to prevent arms from entering Gaza that could be used in attacks against it.
The protests have declined in intensity in recent months and Qura’s was the first reported death in weeks.
Hamas, an Islamist terror group which seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007 and has been the de facto ruler of the territory ever since.
Under a fragile ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials following a severe flareup in May, Israel is meant to ease aspects of its blockade on the Strip in exchange for relative calm. Israel has also recently allowed Qatar to distribute small cash grants to impoverished Palestinian families.
Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups indiscriminately firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border. There has also been weekly border rioting during the period and incendiary devices launched from Gaza have ignited hundreds of fires in southern Israel, devastating the area’s parklands, wildlife and agriculture.
Israel shot dead a Hamas field commander along the border on July 11, prompting the terror organization to vow revenge. Israel later signaled it had fired in error, saying an initial inquiry showed the Hamas member, Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, had been erroneously identified by soldiers as an armed terrorist, but was apparently an operative trying to stop Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence.
On July 19 Israel’s military said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, but no damage or injuries were reported. Uncharacteristically, the IDF did not respond to the attack.
Hamas’s military wing claimed Tuesday that there is a “real opportunity” to reach an agreement with Israel in which the terror group would return two fallen IDF soldiers and a pair of Israeli civilians who have been held captive in the Gaza Strip for five years.
The Hamas official’s remarks came as Israel marked the five year anniversary of the 2014 war in Gaza, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, in which IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were killed and captured by the terror group.
“I cannot elaborate here [publicly] on everything we are doing, but we are doing a great deal,” Netanyahu said of the efforts to return the captive soldiers and civilians.
AFP contributed to this report.