Gaza protest toll rises to three



GAZA CITY: A 40-year-old Palestinian hit by Israeli fire on the Gaza border died of his wounds on Saturday, taking the death toll from protests the previous day to three, the territory’s health ministry said.

He was among at least 131 Palestinians wounded by Israeli bullets during Friday’s protests, even as an informal truce ending a deadly flare-up between Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and the Israeli army largely held.

The health ministry identified the man as Ahmed Abu Lulu and said he was shot in a section of the border east of the southern city of Rafah, where the two other Palestinians were also killed.

The ministry had earlier identified the other two as Ali al-Alul, 55, and volunteer medic Abdullah al-Qatati, 21.

Funerals for the three dead Palestinians took place on Saturday, attended by thousands of people.

Doctors and first responders were among the attendees, in a show of solidarity for Qatati.

On Friday, a few thousand protesters had gathered at various locations along the border, setting tyres ablaze and throwing stones, but in smaller numbers than in previous weeks, AFP correspondents said.

The Israeli army said a grenade was thrown at troops guarding the border with northern Gaza, without causing any casualties, and that troops responded with tank fire against two Hamas posts.

But the border was otherwise calm after a reported deal to end all rocket fire into Israel and air strikes on the Gaza Strip appeared to take effect around midnight (2100 GMT) on Thursday.

There was no official confirmation of the truce from Israel or Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas but there were no fresh air strikes on Friday.

Thursday had seen extensive Israeli raids in retaliation for the launching of more than 180 rockets and mortar rounds by Hamas and its allies on Wednesday night.

It was one of the most serious escalations since the 2014 Gaza war and followed months of rising tensions.

Three Palestinians were killed in the Israeli strikes, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter. Seven Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire.

The European Union said Gaza and Israel were “dangerously close” to a new conflict and called for urgent efforts to protect civilians.

At least 168 Palestinians have been killed since the border protests began on March 30, with most succumbing to Israeli fire during demonstrations. Others have died in air strikes.

Over the same period, one Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.


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