Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli gunfire and tear gas during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip December 21, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
An estimated 8,000 Gazans participated in demonstrations near the security fence Friday as part of the weekly “Great March of Return” protests.
Sixteen-year-old Mohammad Jahjouh was fatally shot in the neck, while 25 others, including a local journalist, were wounded by Israeli gunfire, according to the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Health Ministry.
The Health Ministry reported later that another two men, aged 28 and 40, died of injuries they sustained at protests in two separate locations along the fence with Israel earlier in the day. Saturday morning, the ministry reported another fatality coming out of the weekly demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border line, bringing the total number of casualties to four.
The fatalities were identified by WAFA News Agency as Maher Yasin, 40, Abdul-Aziz Abu Shari'a, 28, Ayman Munir Mohammed Shabir, 18, and Mohammad Mo’een Jahjouh, 16.
"The armed option is the only one that can succeed against the machinations of the Zionist entity," said a Hamas spokesperson, according to Israeli media reports.
Demonstrators expressed their appreciation for "the heroes of the resistance in the West Bank," referring to recent terrorist attacks.
The demonstrators allegedly burned tires and threw stones and explosive and incendiary devices at IDF soldiers during the protests in order to disrupt Israeli positions along the fence. None of the projectiles landed in Israeli territory.
"Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures," an Israeli military spokeswoman.The clashes follow a recent surge of violence in the West Bank
. Last Thursday a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers, and Israeli forces killed two Hamas fugitives whom it blamed for earlier terror attacks. Israeli forces also killed two Palestinians that Israel said had tried to carry out future attacks.
Hamas marked the 31st anniversary of its founding Sunday. Friday's protest is the first since this commemoration.
Anna Ahronheim and Reuters contributed to this report.
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