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Israeli troops kill Gaza teens during border protests: medics

Israeli troops kill Gaza teens during border protests: medics
A relative of a Palestinian who was killed at Israeli-Gaza border fence, reacts at the hospital in the northern Gaza Strip September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem -
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MOHAMMED SALEM(Reuters)
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GAZACITY (Reuters) – Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers including a 14-year-old boy during protests along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, Palestinian health officials said.

They named the dead as Khaled Al-Rabai, 14, and Ali Al-Ashqar, 17. Seventy protesters were wounded, 38 of them by live fire, medical officials said.

An Israeli military spokesman said that troops guarding the border were faced with more than 6,000 demonstrators at several points along the fence, some hurling explosive devices and firebombs.

He said that some briefly managed to cross the fence before returning to Gaza, and that Israeli forces responded with riot dispersal measures. The spokesman did not comment on the deaths.

Protesters have staged 18 months of weekly demonstrations dubbed the “Great March of Return”, calling for an end to a security blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt, and for Palestinians to have the right to return to land from which their families fled or were forced to flee during Israel’s founding in 1948.

Israel rejects any such return, saying that would eliminate its Jewish majority.

Egypt, Qatar and United Nations officials have been working to keep the border calm in recent months.

Around 210 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began in March 2018, Gaza medical officials say.

In that period, an Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper along the frontier, and another was killed during an Israeli undercover raid into Gaza.

Israel seized Gaza in a 1967 war and pulled out its settlers and troops in 2005. It says the security blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Islamist group Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel and fired thousands of rockets at it in the past decade.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Stephen Farrell and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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