Three Palestinians killed as 7,000 riot along Gaza border

According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in the violent riots in several locations along the Gaza border, throwing stones and explosive devices towards IDF troops.

Protests near Khan Yunis on Gaza border June 8, 2018 (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Protests near Khan Yunis on Gaza border June 8, 2018
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Two Palestinians were shot dead by IDF fire on Friday during violent demonstrations along the Gaza border fence, including a 12-year-old boy, while a third demonstrator died Saturday from his wounds from a shooting on the day before.
The Gaza health ministry identified the boy as Majdi al-Satra. He was shot by Israeli troops east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned al-Satra’s death on Twitter.
“Yesterday’s killing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy by Israeli fire in Gaza is shocking and tragic,” Mladenov wrote.
“Children are not a target! Too many lives have been lost. It’s time for this to stop.”
The other fatalities included 17-year-old Mohmen al-Hams, who died Saturday from a gunshot wound to the chest from the day before, and 43-year-old Ghazi Mohammad Abu Mustafa, who was shot in the head east of Khan Yunis earlier and died in the hospital.
Another 40 Palestinians were injured in the demonstrations.
According to the IDF, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in the riots in several locations along the Gaza border, burning tires, and hurling rocks and explosive devices, including pipe bombs, a Molotov cocktail and a grenade toward troops.
The military stated that a number of suspects were identified approaching the security fence and sabotaging it before returning to the Gaza Strip.
Troops responded with crowd dispersal measures, as well as live fire, in accordance with IDF rules of engagement.
“IDF forces are deployed in the area of the fence and are ready for a variety of scenarios,” read the statement released Friday.
Gazans have held weekly demonstrations along the border fence since March 30 as part of what organizers have called the “Great March of Return.”
On Wednesday an IDF officer was moderately wounded by a sniper near Kibbutz Kissufim.
The soldier was ambushed after troops arrived to disperse a violent demonstration by 20 Palestinian youth close to the border fence.
The officer, who remains hospitalized, was shot just days after St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi was killed by sniper fire some 400 meters away.
Described as the most serious incident along the border fence since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Levi was the first soldier killed by Palestinian fire from the Gaza Strip in four years. Following the fatal incident, the IDF carried out massive retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets in the coastal enclave.
The border protests have been the greatest threats to Israeli security in the region since operation Protective Edge because of the unprecedented combination of tunnels, riots, attempted infiltrations and the use of incendiary devices.
The thousands of kites, balloons and helium-filled latex condoms with incendiary and explosive devices have sparked fires that have destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland and forests.
On Saturday, an incendiary device sparked a fire near Sapir College in Sderot while another balloon caused large blaze near Kibbutz Gevim in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. Firefighting teams work alongside the IDF and two air tankers to put out the inferno.
Ten fires broke out in Israeli communities along the Gaza border on Friday as a result of aerial arson devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Blazes were reported in Shokeda Forest, Simhoni Forest and Be’eri Forest. Fires also broke out at the kibbutzim of Kissufim, Gvar’am and Be’eri.
An IAF aircraft struck a cell in launching the devices in the northern Gaza Strip in response. No injuries were reported.
According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, 157 Gazans, including 18 minors and two women, have been killed since the beginning of the weekly demonstrations. An additional 17,000 have been wounded, 400 of them said to be seriously injured.
Hamas officials have said that the protests, aimed at lifting the grinding Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza, will continue until its demands are met.