Palestinian killed by Israeli artillery fire in Gaza: official


GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories, March 22, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – A Palestinian was killed and two others injured before dawn on Wednesday by Israeli artillery fire in Gaza, according to a Palestinian official.

According to the Israeli army, the three men were in the border area between the Palestinian enclave and Israeli territory, where multiple exchanges of fire have taken place recently.

“Youssef Abou Azra, 18, was killed and two other Palestinians injured by artillery fire by the occupier (Israel) to the east of Rafah,” the large city to the south of the Gaza Strip, said Achraf al-Qodra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army told AFP that the soldiers had spotted three men “close to the security fence and opened fire in their direction,” without giving further details. Several exchanges of fire have taken place in recent weeks between Israel and the Gaza strip, which has been governed for a decade by the Islamist movement Hamas.

At the start of March, Israeli forces struck two Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after soldiers were fired at along the metal and concrete barrier that seals off the Gaza Strip from Israel.

In February, Israeli warplanes and tanks pounded Gaza in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, hitting Hamas military facilities and wounding four Palestinians, none of them seriously.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Since the last one in 2014, a fragile ceasefire has been observed along the largely closed border.

Missiles and rockets are periodically fired at Israel, generally by hardline Islamist groups opposed to Hamas.

But Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza regardless of who carried it out.