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

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GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories, April 2, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – A Palestinian succumbed to his wounds 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.

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.

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 Friday, 757 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, the health ministry in Gaza said.

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