Palestinian Man Shot and Killed by Israeli Forces Near Gaza Border

Palestinian Health Ministry says man, 25, shot in the chest by Israeli troops, bringing Gaza protest death toll to 17

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian protesters carry a man shot by Israeli forces during clashes on the Gaza border, April 2, 2018.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

The Israeli military shot a 25-year-old Palestinian man to death in the central Gaza Strip Tuesday, the coastal enclave's Health Ministry reported. 

The man, who was identified as Ahmed Omar Arfa from the city of Deir al-Balah, was injured in his chest after being targeted by live fire near the border fence, just east of the refugee camp of Bureij 

The latest incident bring the amount of people killed in demonstrations taking place near the border fence to 17, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. In addition, more than 800 people have been injured since Friday by live fire.

The death of Palestinian protesters has evoked criticism from Israeli officials, the Palestinian Authority and others worldwide. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Saturday for the launching of a transparent investigation into the death of Palestinians in protests.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has called on the international community to "investigate Israel over the crimes it committed against the Palestinian people."

In Israel, chairwoman of the left-wing party Meretz, Tamar Zandberg, also called for an investigation to be opened about the multiple deaths of Palestinians at Israel's border with Gaza. "It is an Israeli obligation to know what happened there, and beyond that- it is in Israel's interest to know in order to prevent deterioration into another dangerous round of violence." 

Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Hamas and Gaza residents not to approach the border fence with Israel as he met with residents and mayors of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip.       

"We have set clear rules for the game and we do not intend on changing them," Lieberman said. "Anyone who approaches the fence puts his life at risk. I recommend to the residents of Gaza to invest their efforts not in protests against Israel, but in replacing the leadership within the Gaza Strip.”

As for the number of those killed during protests over the previous days, the defense minister asserted that “most of those killed were terrorists who were known to us very well as being active in the military branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They are not innocent civilians who came as part of a civil protest. This was a well-organized provocation by Hamas's military wing and an attempt to attack our sovereignty, to disturb daily life, and to prevent civilians from celebrating the Passover seder. We are not committing any provocations targeting the residents of Gaza, but only defending our citizens,” said Lieberman.

Lieberman went on to defend Israel against international criticism of the military's handling of the protests, saying it "acted in an exceptional manner" and that he had "no doubt that we will continue to act [this way] over the next few days as well. We are prepared for any scenario. We are not looking for war, no one wants war . . . We prefer to focus on building housing, agriculture and tourism."

He further stated that he had gone through all the speeches made by Hamas's leadership since Israel's 2005 disengagement from Gaza and never once heard a call for peace, coexistence or cooperation, including at the rally last Friday. "They all spoke about destroying Israel, hatred of Israel and returning the refugees to Safed, Haifa and Acre," he added.

Israel's defense minister also accused Hama of attempting to divert the attention of Gaza residents from the situation there. "Hamas is trying to shift the blame for its failure to Israel," Lieberman said. Unemployment is high in Gaza and the economic situation is dire, but, he said, Hamas still found at least $15 million to spend on "the terror march they organized Friday."