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Palestinian teen dies as death toll from new Gaza demonstrations increases to 45

Forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since 30 March.

Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Israeli soldiers near the fence during a protest on the Gaza Strip border with Israel.
Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Israeli soldiers near the fence during a protest on the Gaza Strip border with Israel.
Image: Momen Faiz via Getty

A PALESTINIAN TEENAGER has died of his wounds a day after being shot by Israeli forces in clashes along the Gaza border, the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry said today.

Azzam Oweida, 15, was hit in the head during protests in southern Gaza on Friday, the ministry said.

His death brought to four the number of people killed or fatally wounded during a fifth consecutive Friday of protests in which thousands of Gazans have gathered near the heavily-guarded border.

Most protesters were peaceful but some threw stones and burned tyres.

Forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of what organisers have dubbed the Great March of Return on 30 March, with more than 1,500 wounded.

No Israelis have been reported hurt.

The Israeli army said around 10,000 people had taken part in “riots” along the border Friday, saying troops responded with “riot dispersal means”.

The army has accused Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out attacks.

Marchers are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948.

Israel says that would mean the end of the Jewish state, and accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as a pretext for violence.

The Israeli military said that at one point on Friday protesters had used “explosive devices, hand grenades and firebombs” as they attempted a mass breach of the border fence.

Air strikes

In what the military said was a direct response, Israeli warplanes on Friday night attacked “six military targets belonging to the Hamas terror organisation’s naval force in the Gaza Strip”.

It did not give the location of the targets, but the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza said aircraft — originally reported as drones — hit Gaza’s main port, damaging two boats but causing no injuries.

Eyewitnesses at the port said the two boats were badly damaged. Hamas security forces prevented journalists from reaching the scene.

It is believed to have been the first time Israeli aircraft had targeted boats in Gaza since the 2014 war there between Israel and Hamas.

The protest movement is officially independent but has the backing of Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

Palestinian boy martyred by Israeli army Relatives of Palestinian Azzam Hilal Uvayda, 15, who died at a hospital after he injured by Israel forces during border demonstrations. Source: Getty Images

On Friday protesters again gathered at five sites near the border fence, though numbers were down on previous weeks.

Dozens of young men burned tyres and threw stones a few hundred metres from the border, with Israeli soldiers occasionally firing tear gas and live ammunition.

Three men were shot dead, according to Gaza’s health ministry, while the Gaza Centre for Media Freedom said three journalists were among those wounded.

Demonstrations are expected to spike again ahead of 14 May, when the United States plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The decision has infuriated Palestinians, who see the annexed eastern half of the holy city as the capital of their future state.

US President Donald Trump, who tore up decades of policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said he “may go” to the city for the embassy opening.

That came as Amnesty International called for an arms embargo against Israel over its use of live fire in Gaza.

Israel has rejected calls for an independent investigation into deaths along Gaza’s border. The army says its troops only use live ammunition as a last resort.

- © AFP, 2018

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