At least 130 Gazans hit by Israeli gunfire: Palestinian ministry

Medics evacuate a wounded youth from near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2018
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At least 130 Gazans hit by Israeli gunfire: Palestinian ministry

  • Following calls to avoid an escalation in violence, the demonstrators largely kept their distance from the fortified frontier fence
  • More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave

GAZA CITY: At least 130 Palestinians were hit by Israeli gunfire Friday as thousands protested near Gaza’s border with Israel, the health ministry in the enclave said.
Following calls to avoid an escalation in violence, the demonstrators largely kept their distance from the fortified frontier fence.
But at least 130 Palestinians were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli soldiers, the health ministry said.
An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that while most of the protesters stayed back from the fence, some came close and threw explosive devices and hand grenades at troops, while burning tires.
“The soldiers who were there responded with riot dispersal means, along with gunfire,” he said.
Since March, Palestinians have moved right up to the border fence every Friday and occasionally breached it, leading to clashes in which more than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed.
While thousands again gathered for the latest protests in northern Gaza, the demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
An AFP correspondent said Hamas security officials in at least one location were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Kites and balloons equipped with incendiary devices were launched across the border into southern Israel, and the Israeli army said one of its aircraft targeted a group of men launching balloons.
An Egyptian security delegation visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday and encouraged Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah to calm the protests, an Egyptian official said.
A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Egyptian security officials had held separate meetings in the past few days with Israeli counterparts and with Hamas leaders in an effort to prevent an escalation in violence.
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov, in a tweet, also urged all sides “to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation.”
On Wednesday, two rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave at Israel, with one destroying a house in the southern city of Beersheba.
In response Israel ramped up armored forces along the Gaza border on Thursday and Israeli air strikes targeted around 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel pulled troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past decade.


Egypt, 5 Arab nations in live ammunition military drills

Updated 23 min ago
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Egypt, 5 Arab nations in live ammunition military drills

  • Thursday’s drills were held in the western desert around the “Mohammed Naguib” military base
  • They are scheduled to end Friday

MARSA MATROUH, EGYPT: Military units from Egypt and five other Arab nations have conducted war drills with live ammunition in the Egyptian desert west of Cairo.
Thursday’s drills were held in the western desert around the “Mohammed Naguib” military base near the coastal Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrouh.
The drills, codenamed “Arab Shield,” bring together ground, naval and air units from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait. They are scheduled to end Friday.
Thursday’s drills involved target practice by rocket launchers, tanks and fighter-jets.
Egypt has been holding separate drills with each of these five Arab nations in recent years, but Arab Shield marked the first time that all six allies simultaneously participated in war games.