IDF Denies Killing Palestinian Teen on Gaza Border

Army rebuffs Palestinian media claims that it killed 15-year-old as he tried to enter Israel.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Tuesday denied Palestinian media reports that it shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy trying to cross from Gaza into Israel.

Earlier in the day, Palestinian news agencies reported that Israeli troops fired on Mohammad Zeid Al-Farmawi, a resident of the Qishtat neighborhood in Rafah, as he approached the Gaza border fence.

According to the reports, Farmawi was found dead when paramedics arrived at the scene east of the defunct Gaza International Airport.

But Israel Radio later quoted the army as saying that there was no truth in claims it had shot at or killed Farwami.

Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein told reporters in Gaza that medical teams and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) coordinated with the Israeli army to collect the boy's body.

The reports came only a few days after two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian militants were killed in Gaza in an exchange of fire between IDF troops and Hamas operatives spotted planting explosives along the border fence.

Palestinian news agency Ma'an said that Al Farmawi was killed while attempting to enter Israel to join demonstrations marking the 34th Land Day, commemorated annually by thousands of Israeli-Arabs.

IDF sources told Haaretz that a Palestinian had approached the fence but was driven off when troops fired warning shots into the air. The sources said the Palestinian was not hurt and that he seemed able to walk away from the area.

In separate incidents, Gaza witnesses said that at least 15 more Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops as hundreds of demonstrators marched close to the border, Israel Radio said.

The clashes in Gaza came as thousands of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs took to the streets across Israel and the Palestinian territories Tuesday. The focus of events was the Galilee town of Sakhnin, where in 1976 six Israeli Arabs were killed in clashes between police and demonstrators against a government decision to expropriate Arab lands in the Galilee for development.

The anniversary of the Sakhnin clashes has since frequently been marked by bloody confrontations between Arab Israelis and the authorities.

Several teenagers hoisted large posters of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah during the Sakhnin rally.

In the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad got behind a horse-drawn plough and drilled a furrow in protest against Israeli control of Palestinian land.

"This is a symbol of our complete rejection of settlers' plans and of our people's determination to hold onto and care for their land," he said. "Our people are deeply rooted here."

Elsewhere in the West Bank, thousands marked the day of protest by participating in a silent march through the city of Nablus, later planting a thousand trees in the area, Israel Radio reported.

Nabil Shaath, a senior member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, told marchers that Fatah would continue along the path of peaceful protest and national resistance, the broadcaster said.

Some 300 protesters marched in the village of Burdus outside the West Bank city of Ramallah before planting olive trees next to the Israeli-built security barrier.

The Supreme Monitoring Committee of the Arab Population, which represents Israel's Arabs, said ahead of Tuesday's protests that it urged Arabs to mark the day because of "continuing demolition of houses, especially in the areas of Wadi Ara and the Negev, and the ongoing demand to expand the jurisdiction of Arab towns in Israel".

The committee also cited Israel's policy of building of Jewish homes beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem.