GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager during protests along the Gaza border on Friday, Gaza medical officials said, and an Israeli soldier was wounded during the demonstrations that had turned violent, the military said.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed during the Israel-Gaza frontier protests which have entered their fourth month and have drawn a lethal Israeli army response.
Thousands took part in Friday’s protests, which marked 100 days since their launch, with some venturing close to the border fence, burning tyres and throwing stones.
Israel’s military said Palestinian protesters hurled grenades, explosive devices and fire-bombs towards the Israeli troops across the border fence. One soldier was moderately wounded by a grenade, the army said in a statement.
“Troops responded by firing towards the terrorists,” the military said.
It said it fired towards a Palestinian who was attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory, but the incident appeared to be unrelated to the death of the teenager.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the 15-year-old boy killed was shot in the chest. It said 70 others were wounded, at least 20 by live fire, and others by tear gas.
There have been no Israeli fatalities during the so-called “Great March of Return” demonstrations but big tracts of Israeli land have been ravaged by fires set by blazing kites or helium balloons carrying burning rags and other objects floated over from Gaza.
Protest organisers say the demonstrations aim to press demands such as for a right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for an Israeli-Egyptian blockade to ease.
Israel says Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, has been orchestrating the protests to distract from their governance problems and provide cover for militants’ cross-border attacks. Hamas, which Israel and the United States designate as a terrorist organisation, denies this.
Home to 2 million Palestinians, more than half of them war refugees and their descendants, Gaza has suffered deep poverty with vital infrastructure collapsing under a 12-year blockade by Israel, which says its aim is to curb security threats by Hamas.
Egypt keeps tight restrictions on its border crossing with Gaza.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Andrew Heavens