Israeli fire kills Gaza protester; clashes in West Bank

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An explosion is seen in northern Gaza City after an airstrike by Israeli forces on June 20, 2018. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 March 2019
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Israeli fire kills Gaza protester; clashes in West Bank

  • Security officials in Gaza said the strikes had not caused any casualties
  • The Gaza Strip has been the scene of mass protests and clashes since late March last year

GAZA CITY: Israeli troops on Friday shot dead a Palestinian at the weekly protest along the fence bordering the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, and Palestinians and the Israeli military clashed in a West Bank village earlier in the day.
Tamer Arafat, 23, was wounded in the head in southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah and died shortly after arriving at the local hospital, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The ministry added that 44 protesters were injured with live fire as well as two journalists and two medics.
In what could be a response to the killing, Palestinian militants fired a projectile from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli army said. There were no reports of casualties and no Palestinian group claimed responsibility.
Early on Saturday, Israeli fighter jets carried out several airstrikes in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, targeting what the Israeli military said were a Hamas compound and underground structures. In a statement, the military said the raids were a response to the projectile and incendiary kites that were flown Friday across the border. There were no reports of casualties.
The protests started last March to highlight Palestinian demands of return to ancestral lands in present-day Israel. Hamas took over the demonstrations soon after and diverted them into an outcry against the blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed on Gaza when Hamas seized it in 2007.
Since then, more than 190 Palestinians have been killed during the protests. Israel rejects criticism over the use of lethal fire, saying it defends its sovereignty against mass breach of the border.
Last month, a UN-assigned committee found that Israeli soldiers intentionally fired on Gaza civilians during the demonstrations and they may have committed crimes against humanity.
The Israeli government lambasted the report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry, which was mandated by the Human Rights Council.
Thousands participated in Friday’s protests along several sections of the fence, which occurred shortly after Egyptian meditators met in Gaza City with Hamas’ leadership in a bid to calm the situation. There were no immediate details about the results of the discussions.
Also on Friday, the Israeli military said it detained two Palestinians shortly after they crossed the border from Gaza. They were hiding a grenade and a knife in their clothes, according to the military.
In the West Bank, meanwhile, clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators in Beit Sira village, the site of a confrontation that led to the deaths of two Palestinians earlier this week.
Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli forces, and troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported five injured.
Hundreds had gathered to protest the killing of two Palestinians near the city of Ramallah by the Israeli army.
The military called the deadly incident on Monday a “car-ramming attack” that targeted Israeli soldiers. An Israeli officer and policeman were injured in the crash, prompting troops to open fire, killing two Palestinians in the car.
Palestinian officials and residents have disputed the army’s account, contending the road and weather conditions indicated it was a car accident.


US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

Updated 20 April 2019
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US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

JERUSALEM: US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
“Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!,” Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.
The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.
Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the plan would require compromise by all parties, a source familiar with his remarks said.
It is unclear whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians’ core demand.
The Palestinians have long sought to set up a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.