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Israeli forces kill Gazan who breached border ‘to torch sniper post’ —army

By Thomson Reuters Foundation - Jul 02,2018 - Last updated at Jul 02,2018

A Palestinian, injured by Israeli soldiers, is being carried to Youssef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Gaza, on Monday (Anadolu Agency photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli occupying forces on Monday shot and killed a Palestinian and wounded another, who were part of a group of four that broke through the Gaza border into Israel, and tried to torch an army sniper position, the military said.

It was the latest deadly encounter on the Israel-Gaza border in which Gaza medical officials say at least 136 Palestinians from the strip have been killed since weekly Friday protests began on March 30. 

No Israelis were reported hurt in the incident near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during which the forces said they heard shots fired in their direction, the army said.

An Israeli military statement claimed that the four Palestinians “crossed the security fence equipped with cutters and combustible materials before attempting to light an unmanned snipers' post".

The statement said that forces spotted the breach, monitored the incident and pursued the four while firing towards them; adding that one of them was killed and another was evacuated for medical treatment.

A third person was apprehended and taken for questioning and a fourth fled back to the Gaza Strip, a military spokesman said.

Palestinians say the weekly protests are a popular outpouring of rage against Israel by refugees demanding the right to return to homes their families fled or were driven from on Israel's founding 70 years ago.

Israel says the demonstrations are organised by the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and denies Israel's right to exist. Israel says Hamas has intentionally provoked the violence, a charge Hamas denies.

Tens of thousands took part when the protests were launched months ago. The number has dropped significantly in recent weeks and only a few thousand have participated more recently.

Israel also accuses Gaza militants of sending balloons and kites with flaming tails carried by the wind across the border daily. Thousands of hectares of farmland and wooded areas in Israel have been destroyed by fire, Israel said.

Israel's deadly tactics have drawn international condemnation, although support has come from its main ally, the United States, which, like Israel, has cast blame on Hamas. Israel says Hamas has stoked the violence to deflect domestic opinion from Gaza's energy shortages and faltering economy.

Israel maintains a naval blockade of Gaza and tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods at its land borders. Egypt has also kept its own Gaza frontier largely closed. Both countries cite security concerns for the measures, which have deepened economic hardship.

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