Palestinians Bury Their Dead after Israel Kills Nine in Border Clashes

Manila Bulletin, April 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

Palestinians Bury Their Dead after Israel Kills Nine in Border Clashes


By Agence France-Presse

Palestinian mourners in the Gaza Strip on Saturday buried their dead, including a journalist, after Israeli troops killed nine during the latest border clashes in a week of bloodshed.

Thousands of protesters approached the border fence around Gaza for a second Friday in a row, burning tyres and hurling stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live ammunition.

In addition to the nine dead, at least 491 were wounded by Israeli gunfire, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said.

Israel said there were around 20,000 protesters and that they were seeking to breach the border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "saluted" the Israeli soldiers "who protect us at all times."

"They (the protesters) talk about human rights, but actually want to crush the Jewish state," he said. "We won't let them."

Numbers were down from the previous Friday, when tens of thousands approached the border in demonstrations that saw Israeli forces kill 19 Palestinians, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war.

The demonstrations largely abated by Saturday, but three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces in a small clash east of Gaza City in the afternoon, one of them seriously, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

No Israelis were injured on either day and the latest deaths have sparked fresh calls for an investigation.

Among those killed on Friday was Yasser Murtaja, 30, a photographer with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency, who died from his wounds after being shot, the health ministry said.

Witnesses said he was close to the front of the protests in southern Gaza when he was hit.

An AFP picture taken after he was wounded showed Murtaja wearing a press vest as he received treatment.

His brother Motazem, also a journalist, said he was next to him when he was shot. "The target was very clearly journalists," he said.

Israel's army said it "does not intentionally target journalists."

"The circumstances in which journalists were allegedly hit by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) fire are not familiar to the IDF, and are being looked into," it said in a statement.

'Intentional shot'

Murtaja's body was taken from the hospital to his home in Gaza City on Saturday morning, with dozens of journalists following, many fighting back tears.

It was wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with a press flak jacket placed on his stomach.

Ismail Haniya, the head of Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, attended the funeral and said that journalists were attacked by Israel while trying to show a "true picture of a blockaded, downtrodden people". …

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