7 Palestinans, including 2 children, killed by Israeli force on border

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli troops killed seven Palestinians, two of them children, and wounded hundreds more in the deadliest day in recent weeks as Gaza’s Hamas rulers stepped up protests along the border fence on Friday.

Thousands of Palestinians gathered at five locations along Gaza Strip’s frontier with Israel in response to calls by Hamas, the militant group that has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Two of the dead were children, aged 12 and 14, the Gaza Health Ministry said, adding that six sustained gunshot wounds to their upper torso. More than 500 protesters were wounded by live fire. Those injured included 35 children, four women, four medics and two journalists.

Hamas has led weekly protests since March, but accelerated them in recent weeks to near daily events, pressing in large part for an end to a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza in 2007. Hamas ousted forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an armed coup.


At the fence, protesters burned dozens of tires, using the thick black smoke as a screen to throw rocks and explosives toward Israeli troops stationed on the opposite side of the fence. The soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire.

The Israeli military said in a statement that in response to “grenades and explosive devices” hurled at troops during the protests, Israeli aircraft carried out two airstrikes on Hamas militant positions in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Defense Forces said their response was “operated in accordance with standard operating procedures.” There were no Israeli casualties reported or damage caused in Friday’s clashes.

Hamas has led and organized the protests, but turnout has also been driven by growing despair over blockade-linked hardship, including lengthy power cuts and soaring unemployment.

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Indonesian men check the body of earthquake and tsunami victims as they look for their relatives at a police hospital in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 29, 2018.Mast Irham / EPA

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israeli troops have killed at least 198 Palestinians and left 20,000 wounded since protests began in late March. In August, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

Israel argues it’s defending its border and accuses Hamas of using the protests as a screen for attempts to breach the border fence to attack civilians and soldiers. Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of excessive and unlawful use of force against unarmed protesters.