Israel to Investigate Killing of 15-year-old in Gaza Border, Says Trump Envoy Greenblatt

The statement follows harsh condemnation from UN coordinator in Mideast peace plan calling the shooting of teenager Mohammed Ayoub 'outrageous'

Palestinian medics evacuate a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018
Adel Hana/AP

WASHINGTON - Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said on Friday that Israel is investigating the death of a Palestinian teenager in Gaza, who was killed during the protests near the border fence between Israel and Gaza on Friday.

"A full investigation by Israel of Mohammed Ayoub’s death is underway so that we will be able to understand what happened," Greenblatt stated. He added that "as we mourn the tragic loss of a young life, we must all resolve to avoid causing more suffering by responses to his death."

On Thursday, Greenblatt wrote that "Palestinians in Gaza have the right to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances," but at the same time, added that "organizers and leaders should focus on that message, not stoke the potential for more violence with firebombs and flaming kites." He also stated that Palestinian protesters in the coastal enclave"must keep a safe distance from the border."

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Earlier Friday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov condemned the killing of 15-year-old Ayoub, which Gaza's Health Ministry said was a result of Israeli live fire. Mladenov described the incident as outrageous and said "the killing of a child" in Gaza "fuels anger and breeds more killing." He added that the incident must be investigated.

The killing of 15-year-old Mohammed Ayoub was among four reported by the Healthy Ministry in Gaza on Friday as thousands of Gazans protested along the border in the fourth consecutive week of the "March of Return."  The ministry said a total of 156 prosters were wounded by Israeli live fire.

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The march is part of a month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence. The committee organizing the protests said the marches will not stop before May 15, at the very least, the day the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, which is based on the date in the Gregorian calendar for the establishment of the State of Israel.

According to the IDF, protesters have tried numerous times during past marches to damage the border fence and cross it, and have thrown explosive devices and firebombs at Israel forces. 

In the three weekends of protest preceding Friday, 34 Palestinians were reportedly killed by IDF fire, and the bodies of two of them who tried to attack an IDF position are still being held by Israel.