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Palestinians say three killed as Israeli troops fire on Gaza protest

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By Reuters
Palestinians say three killed as Israeli troops fire on Gaza protest

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, who were among thousands of people who thronged to the fortified Gaza Strip border on Friday as part of weekly protests launched half a year ago, Gaza health officials said.

Israel’s military said its troops resorted to live fire after explosive devices and rocks were thrown at them and to prevent breaches of the border fence from the Islamist Hamas-controlled enclave.

Gaza health officials said 190 people had been wounded.

At least 187 Palestinians have been killed since the Gaza protests began on March 30 to demand rights to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation, and the easing of an Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade.

A Gaza sniper has killed one Israeli soldier and incendiary devices flown over by Palestinians using kites and helium balloons have set off fires that destroyed tracts of forest and farmland in Israel.

Israel accuses Hamas, against which it has fought three wars in the last decade, of having deliberately provoked violence in the protests, a charge Hamas denies.

More than 2 million people are packed into Gaza, whose economic plight is a focus of so-far fruitless U.S.-led efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stalled since 2014.

(Reporting by Saleh Salem; Editing by Kevin Liffey)