Israel kills two Palestinians during Gaza’s Friday protests

Israeli authorities kill two Palestinian demonstrators, injure dozens more as thousands of Palestinians protest in Gaza strip

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A Palestinian demonstrator picks up a tear gas canister to throw it away from the demonstrators, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015.

Two Palestinian demonstrators were reported dead on Friday and dozens more injured, after Israeli authorities fired shots at Palestinians demonstrating throughout the Gaza strip, in what Palestinians called a "Friday of revolution" against Israel.

Health Ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qudra told AFP that Yehya Abdul Qadir Farhat, 22, died “after he was shot directly in the head by the military in clashes close to the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing” in northern Gaza.

Another Palestinian, Mahmoud Humeida, 22, was also shot dead as he took part in the Friday protests in Shujayea along the border.

Thousands of protesters assembled in areas along the Israeli border in the Gaza strip, as Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, leading to 98 Palestinians being injured - in addition to the two dead - according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health.

"There are about 40 teens protesting, and there are injuries," Lara Aburamadan, a Palestinian journalist, told Al Jazeera.

A Palestinian demonstrator tries to pick up a tear gas canister to throw it away from the demonstrators, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015.

An Israeli Army spokesman told Al Jazeera that on Tuesday, following dozens of Palestinians breaching the separation fence, shots were fired at a military official's jeep, "the decision was made to deploy two more battalions [between 1,000 to 1,600 soldiers] to the Gaza border in order to put an end to the Palestinian protests."

Hamas security forces tried to stop Palestinians from going to Erez "for their safety," due to an increase in Israeli troops along the border, reported Aburamadan.

However, photojournalist Ezz Zanoun told Al Jazeera that the protesters were able to break through Israel's southern border fence in Khan Younis and other areas, as Israeli authorities opened fire using live ammunition and tear gas.

Protesters in Gaza "Want to show Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank not only solidarity, but that they are struggling as best they can, given the differences in political geography between [the occupied Palestinian territories]," Hani Habib, a political analyst based in the Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera.

"In Gaza, there are no settlements, just borders and Israeli towers. They can shoot Palestinians from a distance. This changes things."

The demonstrators are also protesting Israel’s eight-year-long siege of Gaza, which has further tightened within the recent months, with the help of Egypt's shutdown of the Strip's southern border and flooding of smuggling tunnels.

"We go days without electricity, and we have no medicine," Abu Oday, a 31-year-old father of eight, told Al Jazeera from his home in Rafah.

"After the Egyptians started flooding the tunnels, our water became even saltier than before. The Israelis and the Egyptians have made it impossible to live here."

Palestinian medics help a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers securing the entrance of the Erez border crossing between Gaza Strip and Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015.

US President Barack Obama, during a press conference on Friday in Washington, said regarding the spiraling unrest that "It's important for both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and other people in positions of power, to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding.”

"Over time, the only way that Israel is going to be truly secure, and the only way the Palestinians will be able to meet the aspirations of their people, is if they are two states living side by side in peace and security," Obama continued.

A Palestinian throws stones at Israeli soldiers securing during clashes at the entrance of Erez border crossing between Gaza Strip and Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015.

Since October 1, at least 39 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, while seven Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians.

Incidents of violence between Israelis and Palestinians have increased since Israeli police carried out a raid at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound last month to prevent possible protests against Jews entering the grounds to perform rituals. Al Aqsa Mosque is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Islam.

As a result of the raid, a number of Palestinian worshippers were injured and Palestinian access to the compound was restricted.

On October 10, the Palestinian human rights group al Haq released a statement warning that the occupied Palestinian territories stood "on the brink."

The group placed the blame on "Israel’s wanton and excessive use of force against Palestinians, with no accountability for the deaths they cause" over the increasing death toll.

TRTWorld and agencies