Gaza toll rises to 17 after Palestinian dies of wounds: ministry

A Palestinian youth being carried on a stretcher after being injured during a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Jabalia. (AFP)
A Palestinian youth being carried on a stretcher after being injured during a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Jabalia. (AFP)

Gaza City - A Palestinian succumbed to his wounds on Monday three days after being shot by Israeli forces when a mass protest led to clashes, Gaza's health ministry said, raising the death toll to 17.

Faris al-Raqib, 29, was shot in the stomach during Friday's clashes east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the health ministry said, as tens of thousands of people took part in some of the largest protests in recent years.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said in a statement that Raqib was a member, but that he was not carrying a weapon when he was shot.

In an AFP photo before his injury, Raqib is seen carrying one of the wounded away from the clashes.

Hundreds of others were wounded, many of them by live fire, resulting in calls for an independent investigation by the European Union and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

'Terror backgrounds'

Israel has defended its soldiers' actions on Friday, when they opened fire on Palestinians who strayed from a main protest camp and approached the heavily fortified fence cutting off the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The military says soldiers opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers.

It said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was also an attempted gun attack against soldiers along the border.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protest as cover to carry out violence.

Palestinians say protesters were shot while posing no threat to soldiers and rights groups have criticised Israel's use of live fire.

In addition to the 17 Palestinians killed, more than 1 400 were wounded on Friday, 757 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, the health ministry in Gaza said.

The armed wing of Hamas said five of those killed were its members who were participating "in popular events side-by-side with their people".

The Israeli army alleges 10 of the dead had "documented terror backgrounds" in Hamas and other groups and were killed "whilst carrying out acts of terror".

There were no casualties among Israelis.


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