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Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian during Gaza protests

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By Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded dozens of others on Monday taking part in a protest near the border between Israel and Gaza, Gaza health officials said.

The Israeli military said thousands had taken part in the demonstration, throwing burning tyres, rocks and explosive devices towards the troops on the other side of the border fence. Soldiers responded with riot dispersal means according to rules of engagement, a military spokesman said.

Gaza health officials said 90 people were hurt, 10 of them by live fire. Since Gazans began holding border protests on March 30, the Israeli army has killed 184 Palestinians. A Gaza sniper has killed one Israeli soldier.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls Gaza, of having deliberately provoked violence in the protests, a charge Hamas denies.

Protest organisers say the demonstrations aim to press demands for a right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for an end to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the coastal Gaza Strip.

Israel says the blockade is intended to prevent weapons from reaching militant groups, including Hamas, which it designates as a terrorist organisation and with whom it has fought three wars in the past decade.

More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into tiny Gaza, which is experiencing deep economic hardship.

Around 10 Palestinian boats sailed off the coast to challenge the blockade on Monday, drawing warning shots from the Israeli navy. There were no reports of Palestinian casualties.

(Reporting by Saleh Salem and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mark Heinrich)