Palestinians say two hurt by IDF fire after approaching Gaza border fence

Dozens demonstrating near Erez crossing in northern Gaza in latest violence; IDF says it will probe recent deaths of 2 Gaza teens in similar incidents

File: Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli forces during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 24, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)
File: Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli forces during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 24, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Palestinian media reported Sunday that two Palestinian protesters who approached the Gaza border fence near the Erez crossing were shot and wounded by IDF forces.

The two are residents of Beit Hanoun on Gaza’s northeastern edge, just west of the Israeli town of Sderot, the Palestinian news agency Shihab reported.

Dozens of Palestinians were protesting and attempting to approach the border fence near the Erez border crossing in the north of the enclave.

There were no immediate reports of further casualties at the protest, nor any more information immediately available on the condition of the protesters.

On Saturday, the IDF said it would investigate the events surrounding the recent deaths of two Palestinians at the Gaza border, including that of a 16-year-old who was shot on Friday during protests and who succumbed to his wounds on Saturday.

Palestinian media outlets released a video clip which they said showed the incident and appeared to show the teen throwing an object before waving and clapping, with his hands in the air at the time he was shot. (Warning: Graphic content.)

He was named as Ahmad Abu Tuyur.

“In the violent disturbances along the fence, IDF soldiers responded with riot control measures and acted in accordance with open-fire regulations,” said the military in a statement Saturday. “It is claimed that two people died in the violent disturbances. The events will be reviewed by the relevant command echelons.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Friday that a 17-year-old was also killed and that nearly 400 Gazans were wounded in the violent protests.

Around 7,000 Palestinians took part in the weekly clashes.

A young Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli forces during clashes along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City, on September 7, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

The Israeli military said demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and other less-lethal means. Troops fired at Palestinians who attempted to breach the border fence and enter Israel.

The army said it struck two Hamas posts in the Strip. One was attacked in response to a grenade thrown towards troops along the border, while another was hit after protesters damaged military infrastructure.

Balloons with incendiary devices attached were again flown across the border, after being largely absent in recent weeks. Two fires broke out in Israel as a result of the arson attacks.

Friday’s protests were the first since the US announced it was cutting all aid to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian humanitarian assistance.

Recent weeks have seen relatively less violence at the border than at the height of the protests some months ago.

Earlier Friday, Israeli aircraft opened fire at a group of Palestinians who were trying to send incendiary balloons over the border in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said. Two people were lightly injured, according to reports in Gaza.

A Palestinian protester flashes the victory gesture while holding up a doll wearing a mask depicting US President Donald Trump’s face covered with blood and a shirt with an Arabic slogan reading ‘Continuing in spite of Trump,’ during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip on September 7, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

There have long been reports of talks on a UN- and Egypt-brokered truce agreement that would end the months-long flareup of hostilities — the most severe since the 2014 war.

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, which Gaza’s Hamas rulers orchestrated, have included rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli soldiers.

Since the protests began in March, at least 127 Palestinians have been killed in the clashes, according to a tally from The Associated Press. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members. During that time, a Gaza sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

During the demonstrations, 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.

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