The United Nations envoy for Middle East peace on Saturday condemned the death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said was killed during weekly clashes on the border.
“Yesterday’s killing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy by Israeli fire in Gaza is shocking and tragic,” Nickolay Mladenov wrote in a post on his social media accounts.
“Children are not a target! Too many lives have been lost,” he added. “It’s time for this to stop.”
The Gaza health ministry identified the 12-year-old on Friday as Majdi Al-Satra. It said he was shot during confrontations with Israeli troops east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
The Israel Defense Forces declined a request to comment on the boy’s death.
The ministry said 43-year-old Ghazi Abu Mustafa was also killed Friday when he was shot in the head during clashes east of Khan Younis. Additionally, the ministry said 17-year-old Mohmen al-Hams died on Saturday of a gunshot wound to the chest from the day before.
According the ministry’s figures, 157 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the mass “March of Return” protests on March 30. Israel has accused Hamas of using the clashes to attempt to breach the border fence and carry out attacks, and the terror group has acknowledged many of those killed were its members.
Some 7,000 Gazans took part in Friday’s riots at several locations along the border, according to the IDF. In addition to hurling rocks and burning tires, protestors attacked troops with pipe bombs, a Molotov cocktail and a grenade. None managed to clear the fence, and fell in Gazan territory.
In another incident, the army said troops saw several suspects approach the fence, sabotage it and move back.
The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers responded to the violence with less-lethal means as well as live fire in certain instances.
Some time after protests ended gunmen fired at IDF soldiers near the border, causing no casualties. In response the military launched a strike on a nearby Hamas observation post.
Earlier, the Israeli military carried out an airstrike on a squad of Palestinians in northern Gaza as they flew incendiary balloons towards Israel, the army said. Palestinians said there were no casualties in the attack.
A senior Israeli official told Hadashot news: “Hamas is playing with fire and it will get a conflagration.”
Since late March, southern Israel has experienced many fires as a result of incendiary devices attached to balloons or kites launched from Gaza across the border into Israeli territory.
Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. The attacks have continued almost daily, although there has been a marked reduction in numbers since the weekend when the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, said it agreed to a ceasefire.
Despite the drop, violence flared Wednesday and early Thursday after a Hamas sniper shot and injured an IDF officer. Israel responded with tank fire and airstrikes on Hamas targets, and rockets were fired from the Palestinian territory at communities in southern Israel.
The incident came after an IDF soldier was killed by sniper fire the week before, marking the first Israeli fatality in an attack from Gaza since the 2014 war in the Strip.
The Israeli military carried out dozens of retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza following the soldier’s death before Hamas announced an unofficial ceasefire.
Mladenov, who has acted as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, later said the sides were “minutes away” from another “devastating confrontation.”
Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, has fought three wars since with the Jewish state since it violently took over Gaza in 2007.
The military has also bolstered troop presence in the West Bank after a Palestinian assailant sneaked into a West Bank settlement and stabbed three people Thursday, killing one.
An IDF spokesperson said late Thursday it was sending two more brigades to the West Bank following the deadly terrorist attack in Adam. The move comes as Israel has also raised its military alert level in the Golan amid flare-ups there.
Agencies contributed to this report.