Palestinian Demonstrator Hit by Israeli Fire Succumbs to Wounds, Health Officials Say

Additional Palestinian killed overnight after cross-border fire ■ Palestinians prepare for 'Molotov Cocktail Day' in third consecutive week of protests, as organizers promise 'non-violent resistance'

A Palestinian protester running out of black smoke of burning tires during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border.
Khalil Hamra/AP

A 28-year-old Palestinian man died after being shot by Israeli forces near the border with Gaza, the health ministry in the Strip said Thursday.

The man, identified as Mohammad Ashkuri, was killed when he came close to the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip near the town of Khan Younis and later died in hospital, Palestinian medical officials said. An Israeli army spokeswoman had no initial details. 

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The man's death comes less than 24 hours after Israel hit a Hamas target in the Strip. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, a Hamas militant was killed in the attack. Hamas then fired machine guns toward the IDF aircraft that carried out the strike in Gaza, triggering rocket alert sirens throughout southern Israel.

Hamas machine gun fire hit a house in the local council of Sha'ar Hanegev, but no casualties were reported.

This was the second such incident in recent weeks where machine guns fire from the Gaza Strip triggered Israel's rocket alarm. The first incident happened when the system was activated because of a Hamas drill near the border.

Amid heightened tensions on the Gaza border, the Israeli military braces for the third consecutive week of Palestinian protests in the area. Organizers in Gaza expect thousands to participate in this weekend's marches, with Palestinian activists preparing to burn Israeli flags and hoist Palestinian flags in their stead all along the border.

According to sources in Gaza, the protests last Friday were so successful that they inspired a decision to carry out every weekend "a special activity that would garner extensive coverage and international interest."

In the Strip protesters are calling tomorrow's demonstration "Molotov Cocktail Day" as they make multiple firebombs to be used against Israeli troops, but organizers say that it will be "non-violent resistance."

One organizer told Haaretz that "Israel is trying in every way to pin the marches on Hamas and it's very convenient for them if this action becomes violent on the Palestinian side, and that's why we won't allow it."

Overall, almost 1,300 Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers over the past couple of weeks of mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, according to a computerized count by the Gaza Health Ministry. An additional 1,554 Gazans have been treated for tear gas inhalation or injuries by rubber-coated steel pellets.

In addition, 33 Palestinians have been killed during this period, including 26 in border demonstrations.