Palestinian teenager killed in Israel-Gaza border protests

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2/2 © Reuters. Relatives of Palestinian Othman Helles, who was killed at the Israel-Gaza border, react in Gaza City© Reuters. Relatives of Palestinian Othman Helles, who was killed at the Israel-Gaza border, react in Gaza City 2/2

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager on Friday, who had been taking part in border protests, Gaza medical officials said.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel-Gaza border protests which have entered their fourth month and have drawn a lethal Israeli army response which describes them as violent.

Thousands took part in Friday’s protests, which marked 100 days since their launch, with some venturing close to the border fence, burning tires and throwing stones.

Israel’s military said Palestinian protesters hurled grenades, explosive devices and fire-bombs toward the Israeli soldiers across the border fence.

It said it fired toward a Palestinian who was attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory, but the incident appeared to be unrelated to the death of the teenager.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the 15-year-old boy killed was shot in the chest. It said 70 others were wounded, at least 20 by live fire, and others by tear gas.

There have been no serious Israeli casualties during the so-called “Great March of Return” but big tracts of Israeli land have been ravaged by fires set by incendiary kites or helium balloons flown in from Gaza.

In retaliation, Israel on Monday announced the closure of Gaza’s main commercial border terminal, reduced the area Palestinian fishing boats are allowed to operate off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast and blacklisted what it described as a pro-Hamas TV channel.

Israel says Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, has been orchestrating the protests to distract from their governance problems and provide cover for militants’ cross-border attacks. Hamas, which Israel and the United States designate as a terrorist organization, denies this.

Home to 2 million Palestinians, more than half of them war refugees and their descendants, Gaza has suffered deep poverty with vital infrastructure collapsing under a 12-year blockade by Israel, which says its aim is to curb security threats by Hamas.

Egypt keeps tight restrictions on its border crossing with Gaza.

The protest organizers say the demonstrations aim to press demands such as for a right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for an Israeli-Egyptian blockade to ease.

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