Tuesday, July 23

Gaza protest death toll rises to three


Palestinian paramedics carry an injured comrade during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP photo

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: A 40-year-old Palestinian hit by Israeli fire during protests on the Gaza border died of his wounds yesterday, taking the previous day’s death toll 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 agreed after a deadly flare-up between Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and the Israeli army largely held.

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

The ministry identified them as Ali al-Alul, 55, and volunteer medic Abdullah al-Qatati, 21.

A few thousand protesters had gathered in different locations along the border, setting tyres ablaze and throwing stones, but there were fewer people demonstrating 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. It said troops responded with tank fire against two Hamas posts.

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

There was no official confirmation 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 de-escalation to keep civilians from further risk.

At least 168 Palestinians have been killed since the border protests began on March 30.

Most were killed by Israeli fire during the protests but others died in air strikes.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. — AFP