(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
The death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy became contested as the IDF Arabic-language spokesperson claimed the child died due to a rock thrown by violent protesters on Friday, and called on Hamas to respond to the claims.
Palestinians initially blamed the death of Shadi Abdel-Al from Beit Lahiya on Israel, saying he was shot by IDF snipers east of Jabaliya in the northern part of the Hamas-run coastal strip.
But according to the Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesperson Maj. Avichai Adraee, there were “indicators which are increasingly questioning the credibility of the Hamas’s Ministry of Health’s statement about the child’s death.”
Posting on his Twitter account, “According to testimonies the child was killed as a result of stones thrown during the violent riots. What does @press221 [Hamas’ Ministry of Health spokesman’s Twitter account] have to say about that?”
Abdel-Al was one of three Palestinians killed by IDF fire on Friday during clashes along the security fence with Gaza which saw hundreds of others injured.
The two other fatalities were identified by the Palestinian Health Ministry as Hani Ramzi Afaneh from Rafiah and Mohammad Khalil Shaqoura from the al-Maghazi refugee camp, both 21.
Thousands of people took part in their funeral processions on Saturday.
According to Palestinian Maan News Agency, one female paramedic was injured by IDF fire, as well as a journalist who was struck in the leg in eastern Gaza City.
Protesters gathered on Friday under the slogan of “Resistance is our Choice” marking the 25th consecutive week in which Palestinians gather at the fence in the so-called March of Return protests, which have seen 178 Palestinians killed by IDF fire.
The IDF stated that some 13,000 Palestinians took part in the weekly protest on Friday, gathering in several locations along the Gaza Strip’s fence, burning tires, and throwing stones, grenades, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and other explosive devices at IDF soldiers.
One IDF officer was slightly injured by shrapnel from a pipe bomb, and was given medical treatment on the spot.
The IDF responded to the violence and attempted sabotage of the fence with crowd dispersal techniques in accordance with open-fire regulations. Two Hamas outposts were also struck, one by an IDF aircraft and the other by a tank.
“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for the events in and out of the Gaza Strip. IDF soldiers will continue to thwart attempts to harm Israeli civilians and troops in order to protect the borders of the State of Israel,” read a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
In addition, IDF forces identified nine suspects who crossed the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. They immediately returned to the Gaza Strip.
Earlier on Friday several incendiary balloons were found in a playground in Kiryat Gat and neutralized by a police sapper.
Police said that no children were present when the balloons were found, and that they didn’t cause any damage.
More incendiary balloons launched from Gaza also landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. No damage or injuries were caused.
Also on Friday security forces neutralized an explosive device found to have been planted next to the Gaza fence. It was the second explosive device discovered along the border in one week.
On Thursday, a pipe bomb was thrown at troops near the security fence
, leading to them opening fire on three Palestinians seen nearby.
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