Health Care

Israeli gunfire injures 11 Palestinians on Gaza border

Israeli gunfire injures 11 Palestinians on Gaza border

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday hinted at an escalation, saying last Friday's protests had a "limit", but that it's not clear where that limit would be next time. A number of foreign activists have accused Israel of disproportionate use of force against protesters and called for a probe. And Israel says its troops shot at those who posed a danger.

On the other side of the divide, videos circulated widely on social media appearing to show unarmed protesters being shot by the Israelis.

In one video, a man later identified as Ibrahim Abu Shanab is seen kneeling on the ground in the first of two rows of worshippers Friday, facing the border fence at a distance of 150 to 200 metres (yards). Suddenly, he stands up, limps a few meters, collapses and his carried away by young men.

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 Israeli military produced a video showing what it said was one of the Hamas fighters and an accomplice shooting at Israeli forces across the fence in northern Gaza before being killed by Israeli tank and gunfire.

It said troops had followed strict rules of engagement, and that protesters were putting themselves in "harm's way" by operating in a unsafe area.

The army has since said that those killed were among protesters close to the fence who were acting violently toward its soldiers. The group has announced that it intends to file charges in global forums against the IDF over the death of the terrorist, as well as for other acts, which they say involved Israeli security forces entering Gaza and shooting rioters to death.

Lieberman's comments raised the possibility of more bloodshed this Friday, when another mass protest is expected. Smaller groups moved closer to the fence, throwing stones or burning tires.

"From the standpoint of the Israeli soldiers, they did what had to be done", Lieberman told Israeli Army Radio.

ESTRIN: Well, human rights groups are accusing Israel of excessive use of force.

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"This was an incident where soldiers were firing from behind the fence, separated by buffer zones and other objects, firing on individuals well behind the fence, in some cases retreating, not moving forward, or advancing without posing imminent threat", he said.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has rejected global calls for an investigation.

Despite Friday's bloodshed, Israeli forces threatened a "stronger response" on Saturday, using live ammunition and rubber bullets, and wounding about 70 Palestinians among demonstrators at the Gaza border. While Hamas claimed Monday that 18 had died, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority had the number at 16. The Islamic group said five of those killed belonged to its military wing, but said they were participating in the protest "side by side" with their people.

Manelis alleged Monday that Hamas staged the mass march as a cover for attacks.

ESTRIN: Well, there were big rallies organized along the border.

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

Israel is prepared to help Gaza rehabilitate itself economically if Hamas agrees to demilitarize the area, Liberman said. Israel and Hamas have fought three cross-border wars.

The vast majority of Gaza residents are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from communities in what is now Israel.

In a risky strategy, Hamas appears to be trying to use the protests to draw attention to the hard conditions in Gaza, without plunging into another devastating war with Israel.