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A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the central Gaza Strip January 25, 2019.(Photo by: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Report: Two Palestinians killed by IDF fire during weekly Gaza protests
By ZACHARY KEYSER
02/08/2019
Roughly 7,000 protesters confronted IDF forces on Friday during what Palestinians call the March of Return protests.
Two Palestinian teenagers were reportedly killed and five Palestinians were injured in clashes along the Gaza-Israel border during the continued weekly March of Return protests, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported 14-year-old Hasan lyad Abd al-Fattah Shalabi and Hamza Muhammad Rushdi Ishtaiwi a 17-year-old were killed today by IDF sniper fire during the clashes in the Gaza Strip. Shalabi was shot east to the city of Khan Yunis, which is in the southern region of the Strip.

Yediot Aharonot reported that several sources in Gaza stated that the 14-year-old boy killed by a bullet to the chest in the protests was a relative of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh - allegedly his sister's grandson.

Ismail Haniyeh is a senior Hamas official and serves as the political chief of the designated terrorist organization. Haniyeh was elected prime minister of Hamas in the 2006 elections and his government served the Gaza Strip until 2014 when he and his cabinet resigned the position to new leadership.

Roughly 7,000 protesters confronted IDF forces throughout several locations across the Gaza Strip on Friday during the weekly protest.

Protesters charged at IDF positions, threw rocks and makeshift bombs as well as attempted to cut the fence in order to enter Israeli territory. The attempts were thwarted by IDF soldiers.

Palestinians have been staging weekly protests since last March at the border, in an enclave controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas. The enclave's health ministry says that more than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops at the protests. One Israeli soldier has died.

Israel says it has no choice but to use deadly force at the protests to defend the frontier from militants trying to destroy the barrier and infiltrate.

"In the past hour violent demonstrations have been taking place on the security fence, we have been monitoring the demonstrators and documenting some improvised explosive devices that were thrown by some of the demonstrators, injuring several of them in the process," The IDF's Spokesperson's Office commented in a released statement.

The IDF is opening an investigation into the origins of the several improvised explosive devices that went off in the crowd of protesters. In addition, the IDF said that the "terrorist organization's" once again showed their willingness and disregard for public safety by using explosive devices during the protests.

The spokesman said soldiers used riot dispersal equipment and opened fired "in accordance with standard operating procedures."

Earlier in the week, the IDF struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket being launched at Israel an hour earlier on Wednesday night.

According to the IDF spokesperson, an IDF tank attacked a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip. Earlier on Wednesday, rocket sirens went off in southern Israel after at least one rocket was launched at Israel from the Strip, landing in Israeli territory.

Israeli residents in the area reported hearing explosions, but no casualties were reported.

Unconfirmed reports said that other rockets were shot towards Israel, but landed within the Gaza Strip.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed the government on Twitter saying the "imaginary quiet" was broken once again and that Israel should act more determinedly against Hamas.

"Confrontation is inevitable," Liberman wrote, adding that "there is no need to wait for human lives [lost] on our side. We must return to a policy of targeted assassinations and massive damage to terrorist infrastructure."

Gaza is home to 2 million Palestinians, nearly all of them the stateless descendants of people who fled or were driven out of Israel on its founding in 1948.

Israel and Egypt imposed a security blockade on the enclave after Hamas seized control of it in 2007, which the World Bank says has reduced the local economy to a state of collapse. Israel has fought three wars against Hamas in the past decade.

Palestinians say the weekly protests are led by civil society groups demanding an easing of the blockade and recognition of their right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel. Israel says militants use the demonstrations to threaten the border and provoke violence.

Hagay Hacohen, Jerusalem Post Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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