A demonstrator holds a Palestinian flag during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip December 21, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Four Palestinians were killed and dozens more injured during weekly March of Return protests along the Gaza border fence on Friday.
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.
According to the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Health Ministry, Shabir was shot in the abdomen during clashes with Israeli troops east of the El-Bureij refugee camp and al-Jahjuh
was killed after he was hit in the neck by a bullet fired by Israeli troops. Abu Shari’a and Yasin died from their wounds after being shot in separate incidents along the border fence.
Four paramedics and two journalists were reported to be among the injured.
Some 8,000 Palestinians took part in the protests on Friday, burning tires and throwing rocks and an explosive device toward troops, though it did not land in Israeli territory.
IDF troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures, the military said.
Gazans have held weekly demonstrations along the border fence since March 30 as part of what organizers have called the “March of Return.”
The Gaza Health Ministry has reported that more than 250 Palestinians have been killed by IDF fire since the protests began, and that the fatalities on Friday were the first since a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-run coastal enclave went into effect last month.
The demonstrations also come as tensions remain high in the West Bank following a recent surge of violence by a Hamas-run terror cell. Last week, Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli soldiers and carried out a drive-by shooting against Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside the settlement of Ofra. That shooting injured seven, including a woman who gave birth by emergency Caesarean section to a baby boy who died four days later.
While the IDF killed one of the suspects, another is still on the run.
On Thursday night, shots were fired at Ofra from the neighboring village of Ein Yabrud. While there were no Israeli casualties, troops from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion opened fire at a vehicle after it ignored their orders to stop and drove through the Beit El checkpoint, killing the passenger and injuring the driver.
The fatality was identified as 17-year-old Qassim Abbasi from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
According to Ynet, a preliminary investigation into the incident by Military Police has found that the driver did not try to run over the soldiers and no weapons were found in the vehicle.
Palestinian Maan News Agency quoted other passengers in the car as saying that they were heading to Nablus and when they saw the road was closed, they turned back to cross via the checkpoint and drove onto a wrong road, which led them to an Israeli settlement.
“As we attempted to go back to the main road we were chased by either Israeli soldiers or settlers. We could barely see, as there were not enough lights and it was very dark... We kept going and we were between two settlements,” said Muhammad Hani al-Abbasi.
“We were surrounded, they randomly opened fire at us, we did not stop, we kept going fast, the vehicle’s glass broke and the tires were punctured,” he continued, adding that they realized that Abbasi had been shot when troops then told them to exit the vehicle. “We carried him out of the vehicle and he had a bullet in his back as he was sitting behind the driver.”
Maan News reported that his father, Moussa al-Abbasi, demanded an investigation into the incident which he called “murder.”
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