GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during protests along the fortified Gaza-Israel border on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
They named the dead as Saher Othman, 20, and said 52 others were wounded during the often violent demonstrations, 27 of them by live fire.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli military told Reuters troops stationed along the border did not use live fire. It said some 7,000 Palestinians took part in the demonstrations, who it said threw firebombs and explosive devices towards troops.
“IDF (Israel Defence Forces) troops responded with riot dispersal means,” the spokeswoman said.
Protesters have staged 18 months of weekly demonstrations dubbed the “Great March of Return”, calling for an end to a security blockade imposed 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 1948 founding.
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 Hamas, the Islamist group that has fought three wars with Israel and fired thousands of rockets at it in the past decade.
(This story has been refiled to correct number of demonstrators to 7,000 from 700 in third paragraph)
(Reporting by Akram El-Satarri in Gaza and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem, Editing by Alistair Bell)