A PALESTINIAN MAN was shot dead by Israeli forces near the Gaza border today, the first casualty since the two sides agreed a truce ending their week-long conflict, Palestinian medical sources said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman could not confirm the incident, saying only that “disturbances” had broken out on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border early today, prompting Israeli soldiers to fire warning shots.
The Palestinian emergency services identified the dead man as Abdelhadi Qdeih Anwar, 21. They said he was killed in the southern Gaza Strip village of Khuzaa. Nineteen other Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds.
“The occupation forces opened fire on a group of farmers,” Gaza emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said.
Witnesses told AFP the men were trying to reach fields that were off limits according to Israeli regulations which qualify areas around the border as no-go zones.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza said the incident marked a clear violation by Israeli forces of the terms of the truce.
“This is the first Israeli violation of the truce,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
Hamas “will raise this violation with Egyptian mediators to make sure that it does not happen again.”
The Israeli army spokeswoman said that troops were forced to open fire after hundreds of Palestinians attacked a border fence in an apparent attempt to take it down.
“Around 300 Palestinians tried to get close to the security fence. They engaged in violent activity and damaged the fence,” the spokeswoman said.
“The soldiers proceeded to fire warning shots in the air, but the Palestinians continued to close in, and the soldiers then fired at their feet.”
Eight days of Gaza violence that ended with a truce agreement Wednesday claimed the lives of 163 Palestinians and six Israelis.
This video footage from Russia Today reportedly shows the scene of the shooting at the border fence.
(Uploaded by RussiaToday)
- (c) AFP 2012.
Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.