Israeli gunfire kills one more Palestinian in Gaza
24 Mar 2019
Mourners carry the body of Habib Al Masri during his funeral in Beit Hanun, Gaza Strip, on Sunday. Agence France-Presse
GAZA CITY: Gaza’s Health Ministry says a Palestinian has died of wounds sustained from Israeli gunfire at protests along the perimeter fence.
The ministry says on Sunday that 24-year-old Habib Al Masri was shot in the chest at protests near Beit Hanoun the previous night, and that two others were wounded.
Hundreds had gathered for protests in various locations, hurling stones and firebombs towards Israel.
The Israeli military says that in response to the explosives its aircraft targeted two Hamas observation posts in the southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinians in Gaza had thrown a number of explosive devices toward the border fence with Israel, one of which set off air raid sirens in the south of the country late Saturday, the army said.
“In response to multiple explosive devices that were hurled and exploded during Gaza riots near Israel’s border fence this evening, an IDF aircraft targeted two Hamas observation posts in the southern Gaza Strip,” a statement from the military read.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza.
On Friday, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in separate border clashes.
And on Saturday, the Israeli army launched two separate airstrikes against groups of Palestinians in Gaza who had allegedly flown balloons rigged with explosives into Israel.
The Gaza health ministry said two Palestinians had been wounded.
At least 258 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since weekly border protests began nearly a year ago.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is calling for a mass turnout for border protests scheduled for the first anniversary of the demonstrations, on March 30.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from Gaza, controlled by the Hamas group since 2007.
The protests are aimed at breaking a blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed when Hamas seized power in 2007.
Over the past year, about 190 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed in weekly rallies.
With Israel’s election only two weeks away, Benjamin Netanyahu will get to showcase his close ties with Donald Trump in a US visit days after the president backed Israel’s hold over the occupied Golan Heights.
The prime minister’s White House meeting with Trump on Monday could be overshadowed in the United States by the expected release of details from a confidential report into an investigation into possible collusion between the president and Russia in his 2016 US election campaign.
But Netanyahu, facing possible indictment in three corruption cases and denying any wrongdoing, will play to a domestic audience in highlighting what he hails as the strongest bond ever between an Israeli leader and an American president.
Before returning on Thursday from the long-planned trip to the home stretch of a close race, Netanyahu can expect a warm reception from Trump, who along with the First Lady, will also host a dinner for Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
Trump helped to set the scene for his ally on Thursday, announcing that the time had come to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, strategic territory that Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move that did not win international support.
On Sunday Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, said on Twitter that Trump would sign a decree codifying such recognition, with Netanyahu present, on Monday.
The president’s move on the Golan was widely seen in Israel - where Trump is a popular figure - as an attempt to provide an election boost to right-wing Netanyahu, who had pressed for yet another departure from long-standing US policy in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
Trump had already fulfilled two major items on Netanyahu’s wish list, recognising contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moving the American embassy to Tel Aviv last May.
Those steps angered Palestinians, who want Arab East Jerusalem, also captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It also set them firmly against a peace plan Washington says it will present after the Israeli ballot.
“We have never had such a bond between the prime minister of Israel and an American president,” Netanyahu, who has featured Trump on his campaign billboards, told reporters upon his departure from Tel Aviv.