GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli forces killed two Palestinians including a child at a protest along the Israel-Gaza border on Friday and wounded at least 126 others, Palestinian officials said.
The Israeli army said it was defending against members of the crowd who were throwing grenades and explosives at its soldiers.
Thousands of Palestinians had gathered for a weekly protest near Israel’s border fence with the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 12-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man were shot dead by Israeli forces. At least 126 others were wounded by bullets, it said.
Israel’s military said in a statement that some Palestinians were “throwing explosive devices and grenades, rolling burning tires and hurling rocks” at its soldiers and the border fence. Some crossed the fence to throw grenades on Israeli territory before returning to the Gaza Strip, it said.
No Israelis were wounded.
Israeli army gunfire has killed at least 195 Palestinians since the border protests began in March, Gaza medics say. An Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper. Tracts of Israeli land have been burnt up by incendiary materials flown over the border by kite or balloon.
Gaza protesters demand an end to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade and rights to lands that Palestinian families fled or were driven from on Israel’s founding in 1948.
Israel accuses Hamas of orchestrating the protests to provide cover for attacks and distract from Gaza’s economic plight, allegations it denies. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 and has since fought three wars with Israel, most recently in 2014.
(Reporting by Saleh Salem; Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)