Israeli army kills four Palestinians in Gaza boundary area

2019-08-10 11:02
Palestinians protest in Beit Lahia against a US-sponsored Middle East economic conference in Bahrain. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

Palestinians protest in Beit Lahia against a US-sponsored Middle East economic conference in Bahrain. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

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Israeli army has said its troops shot dead four Palestinians near the Gaza boundary area with Israel on Saturday morning.

The four men were heavily armed with assault rifles, anti-tank missiles and hand grenades, one of which was hurled at the Israeli troops, the military said in a statement.

WATCH | Israeli man killed in rocket strike from Gaza: Police, hospital

The Israeli army opened fire when one of the men crossed into Israel, it said. No casualties were reported in Israeli ranks.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials in Gaza or armed groups in the territory.

The shootings on Saturday came as Muslim Palestinians prepare to mark Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice.

Weekly protests

Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel over the past decade. Israel pulled its troops and settlers from the territory in 2005, but keeps the enclave under a blockade, citing security reasons.

Hamas has staged weekly protests along the line dividing Gaza and Israel since March 2018 against the strip's dire conditions following 12 years of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

At least 301 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the boundary area since then, the majority during demonstrations. Seven Israelis have also been killed.

On August 1, a Palestinian was killed and three Israeli soldiers wounded in an exchange of fire in an area of the southern Gaza Strip.

The intensity of protests have decreased since Israel and Hamas reached an informal ceasefire in May, following the worst round of fighting since a 2014 war between them.

Under the truce - brokered by the United Nations and Egypt - Israel agreed to take steps to ease aspects of its blockade on Gaza but Palestinians have accused it of slowing the deal, adding that it has not taken enough measure to ease the crippling economic conditions in the coastal enclave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid a major flare-up in the Palestinian territories as he gears up for a snap general election on September 17 - the country's second this year.

However, he is likely to face political pressure to act firmly against any significant attack.

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